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Exercise for the elderly

Exercise for the elderly

As you get older, it’s more important than ever to stay active. Regular exercise can help you stay healthy, keep you mobile and also improve your mood.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or going to a class with lycra clad participants. Find activities that keep you moving but that you also enjoy, as you’re more likely to stick to them.

Why is it important to stay active?

According to the NHS ‘Many adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down’. This sedentary lifestyle can lead to numerous health problems and also reduce your quality of life.

Some of the health issues associated with an inactive lifestyle include:
- Obesity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- Osteoporosis and broken bones
- Heart disease and heart attacks
- Certain cancers

There is also research that shows that the effects of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, Parkinson’s can be lessened with physical exercise.

Physical activity can also help with your mental wellbeing. For starters being active releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. It can also give you a sense of purpose, help with concentration, reduce stress and improve sleep.

NHS Recommended Physical Activity

According to the NHS older adults should be active every day. Their guidelines state:

‘Adults aged 65 and over should:

- aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none. The more you do the better, even if it's just light activity
- do activities that improve strength, balance and flexibility on at least 2 days a week
- do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity if you are already active, or a combination of both
- reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity’

Don’t panic if you’re not achieving these guidelines. Any physical activity is better than no activity, so start small and build up gradually over time.

If you’d like to read more about their guidelines, you can visit their website.

Getting started

Where you start will depend on your circumstances and current level of physical activity. It’s always best to talk to your Doctor before making changes, to ensure that what you’re doing will be of benefit.

If you are doing very little physical activity at the moment then you could start by introducing more movement into your day. This could include things such as:
- Standing up more throughout your day
- Gentle stretches while sitting or lying in bed
- Walking around the house

If you’re a little bit more mobile then look for ways to increase your physical movement.

These could include:

- Gentle exercises to extend your movement.
- Light chores around the house such as cleaning or dusting
- Walking around your garden or your block
- Lifting objects of light weight to build strength.

Once you have achieved a certain level of light activity you can then look to take on more moderate physical activities. You should be aiming to feel a little warmer, breathe a little faster and raise your heart rate.

Some activities that are considered moderate are:
- Mowing the lawn
- Walking at a brisk pace
- Riding a bike
- Doubles tennis
- Water aerobics

Don’t forget to add some strengthening activities into your week too! These could include:
- Lifting weights
- Yoga, Pilates or tai chi
- Gardening such as digging.

Need help

If you would like some help with exercising then please contact us on 01789 731 161.

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