You've likely heard of the term, “use it or lose it.” But why is it so important to keep moving as you age?
Physical activity has a raft of benefits: stronger bones and muscles, healthy weight, better balance, a sharper brain, it may even delay the onset of dementia. It can also help protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer.
It doesn’t only have physical benefits; you may find a greater sense of happiness and improved quality of life and wellbeing. Recent research has shown that if you maintain a higher level of physical fitness it may actually slow the ageing process! The list goes on.
Yet, aging is associated with reduced levels of exercise. At a time when movement is essential, people tend to sit more; they might be concerned about injury or have physical barriers. Chronic health problems can make activity harder. While understandable, being active remains crucial. These issues can be overcome with a little help and planning.
There are simple guidelines to help you get moving, safely. For people aged 65 years and over, at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity daily is recommended. Of course, it’s even more beneficial if you can do more! Aqua aerobics, biking, dance, tennis, and brisk walking are good examples. Team sports or group activities can help with motivation.
As well as aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening activities matter. Yes, you can hit the gym, but you can also do resistance training at home. Weights, body weight exercises, and resistance band workouts are perfect.
Use your major muscle groups − think arms and legs, chest and shoulders, back and core, and remember to include activities which help with flexibility and balance too.
In addition to structured exercise, being active throughout your day can also make a big difference − lifting heavy shopping bags, housework and digging in the garden all count.
If you have health problems or it's been a while since you’ve exercised, a check-up with your GP first is advisable. Then, you can start slowly and build up the time and intensity of your exercise over a course of weeks. The secret is just to begin; this is a journey not a race.
We can advise on the best types of exercise for your body and how to avoid injury. If you have any queries or concerns, please ask Dr McCann.
Five Daily Activity ideas:
Take the stairs where possible.
Play actively with your grandchildren - hopscotch is great!
Park your car further away from the shops to add a little walk.
Put on your favourite music and dance.
Try games at social gatherings like petanque or frisbee throwing.