Exercising as we age

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.

Strong evidence

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.

Getting started

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.

Source: NHS.net

24 Sep, 2018

4 thoughts on “Exercising as we age

  1. Yes, this is definitely something I need to work on seeing as I just turned 50 and factors like high blood pressure have suddenly come into play.

    I haven’t exactly led a very active or healthy lifestyle for most of my life, but I know that there are things I can do now to improve my health.

    I don’t want to end up as one of those extremely bitter people I have met in nursing homes, who are so very miserable because their health conditions prevent them from doing much of anything, other than sitting around and praying for death.

    I’m not expecting to run marathons, but it would be nice to do things like make it to the bathroom on my own, when I do become a senior citizen.

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes, you’re in the driving seat Randy and in control. The more active you become, the less of a problem you will have with high blood pressure.

      Also, the less sitting and the more active we are, the less likely we are to have long term health problems, as we age.

  2. It’s very easy to be lazy and get into a routine that excludes exercise. I would love to be able to include a good long walk as part of my daily routine, but excuses seem to prevail to often.

    I intend to turn that around and get more exercise one way or another.

    1. You’re absolutely right. I think we’re potentially all guilty of that.

      I think my circumstances are slightly different to yours and I have to make sure my exercises fit around my disability, but we must all do more as we age.

      It’s pleasing to hear that you intend to turn your exercise regime around so that you do more exercise. Exercise will always be worth our while as long as we don’t then do too much.

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