As we age physical activity and exercise will help us stay healthy, energetic and independent.
Sadly, many adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. This leads to higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease and early death compared with the general population.
As we get older, it becomes even more important to remain active; for us to stay healthy and to maintain independence. Not staying active potentially means that all the things we’ve always enjoyed doing and taken for granted may start to become that little bit harder.
As we age, we may start to get aches and pains we’ve never had before and have less energy. This can lead to more sedentary lifestyles and doing less of the things we enjoy.
There is strong evidence to suggest that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. So, if we want to stay pain-free, reduce risk of mental illness, and be able to go out and stay independent, we’re advised to keep moving.
There are lots of ways to stay active. Try to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity very week. Ideally, we should all try to do something every day, preferably in bouts of 10 minutes of activity or more. One way of achieving 150 minutes of activity is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities include:
- walking fast;
- water aerobics;
- riding a bike on level ground or with few hills;
- playing doubles tennis;
- pushing a lawn mower.
In addition to your 150-minutes target, try to do some activities that also work your muscles.
- This can include:
- weight training;
- carrying heavy loads;
- heavy gardening.
As well as regular physical activity, try to reduce the amount of time sitting down during the day. This means avoiding long periods of TV viewing, computer use, driving, or sitting to read, talk or listen to music.
What we do depends on our own circumstances, but it’s a good idea to do activities we enjoy.
If you’re already active, you may find it useful to know that 75 minutes of vigorous activity over a week is as beneficial as 150 minutes of moderate activity.
But research shows it’s never too late to adopt and reap the health benefits of a healthier lifestyle. For example, older adults who are active will reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke to a similar level as younger people who are active.
For anyone who has been inactive, it’s important to gradually build up your activity to reach recommended levels. You’ll still be improving your health in the process, and you’ll reduce your risk of falls and other ailments.
The biggest benefits come to those who start from scratch and moving from a sedentary lifestyle to a moderately active one that makes the biggest difference to your health. The more you do, the greater the health benefits.