14th August 2017
Statistics show that 83% of men and 87% of women over the age of 65 are insufficiently active (Department of Health). It doesn’t surprise many people that as we get older we are less active, but the question is why? There is no reason why this needs to be the case, providing exercise is tailored to the requirements and abilities of the individual, alongside healthy and nutritious food choices. And the good thing is, it’s never too late to start leading a fit and active life.
Studies show that the impact on physical health of doing exercise in older age are far-reaching - with improvements in balance, strength, gait, muscular power, blood pressure, endurance and bone density recorded. It is important to build up the level of activity whilst being mindful of what your starting point is – it goes without saying that it is not recommended to embark on a marathon if you’re used to only doing a few minutes walking a week! Gradual increases in the amount of time spent walking, jogging or other light aerobic exercises can quickly lead to an improvement in overall health and fitness levels.
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of taking exercise, there are a great deal of other ways that being active can enhance your life. Many older people enjoy the routine that exercise can bring, whether doing it alone or in a group. Exercising outside has been associated with greater revitalisation and mood enhancing properties – so that half hour walk to the shops instead of taking the bus may have a big impact a person’s mental health and sense of well-being.
There are many organised activities nowadays that are adapted specifically for the older person. Taking a class such as water aerobics, gyrotonic or light cardio can give someone the confidence that they are exercising at the correct level and in the appropriate way. It’s also an opportunity to socialise and make new friends. Whilst sports centres and gyms may have in the past been seen as intimidating places for an older person, there are now a wide range of classes they offer for this demographic and they will be happy to have a discussion with you and assess what might be the best type of exercise to take. Many swimming pools also run senior swim sessions, where the pool is reserved for older people who want to swim at a more leisurely pace.
The wonderful thing about exercise and physical activity, is that there really is something for everyone. Whether you like to exercise alone of as a group, in a pool or a park, there are many different options regardless of your current level of fitness. The opportunities and benefits are endless – so why not take that first step today?