Exercise As You Get Older – How To Remain Active But Also Safe

By exercising and engaging in physical activity, you can remain energetic, healthy, and independent, even when you age. However, on average, people over the age of 65 spend around 10 hours per day lying down or sitting. In fact, they are the top sedentary age group.

Whether measurements are subjective or objective, the majority of older adults are sedentary. Almost 60% of older adult’s reported sitting for more than 4 h per day, 65% sit in front of a screen for more than 3 h daily and over 55% report watching more than 2 h of TV. However, when measured objectively in a small survey, it was found that 67% of the older population were sedentary for more than 8.5 h daily.

Unfortunately, this inactivity is costly. Elderly people are more likely to be obese, to fall, and to have heart disease. They are also more likely to die compared to other age groups.

What this shows is that it is incredibly important to stay active for elderly people. It is your ticket to independence and greater overall health. Without physical activity, you will struggle to engage in the activities you have always enjoyed and that you have taken for granted. It can become difficult to engage in simple things like walking to the shop, playing with the grandchildren, meeting friends, and so on. You are likely to also notice sudden aches and pains, and a general drop in energy. Because of this, it becomes increasingly difficult to look after yourself properly as well.

A Body of Evidence

There is very strong scientific evidence that shows active people are less likely to develop a stroke, heart disease, various forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and depression. If your goal is to stay comfortable and pain free, lower your risk of mental ill health, and remain independent, then you clearly have to keep moving.

Regular physical activity and exercise are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities. That’s why health experts say that older adults should aim to be as active as possible.

Getting Active Even If You’re Older

Being active while getting older isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Yes, the body starts to decline, but this doesn’t actually mean exercise is out of the question. In fact, exercising significantly slows down natural decline. The recommendation is, in fact, not just to stay active, but to increase levels of activity as well. Elderly people want to remain socially active as well, being part of a community of friends and neighbors. This can also be achieved through physical activity.

Defining Physical Activity

The minute your body starts moving, you are classed as being ‘physically active’. This can be anything from playing a sport to gardening, or from walking the dog to running. A number of hints and tips have been released for elderly people who want to become or remain active:

– Try to engage in 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
– Try to be physically active every day, preferably for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Specifically, elderly people could do things such as water aerobics, walking fast, playing double tennis, riding a bike, pushing a lawn mower, or dancing. While there are a lot of fitness gurus who show people how to lose weight while doing housework, general chores don’t count (unless you do them in such a way that they become more physically intense). So, unfortunately, you can’t count things like housework, cooking, or shopping as part of your exercise regime. However, those things do have benefits as well, because you are moving and because it breaks through the routine.

Experts agree that elderly people should also perform exercises that work on their muscle tissue. Some of the things they can do include heavy gardening, carrying heavy loads, and weight training. It is very important, however, to speak to a personal trainer or other such professional first, particularly if you have never done any weight training before.

Another important tip is to spend less time just sitting down. This means you might want to cut down a little bit on the amount of television you watch, or the amount of time you spend behind a computer. Similarly, reading and driving should be cut down a bit, as should sitting down to listen to music or to talk to people. While this may sound like you have to cut out all your favorite activities, that is not the case. Rather, you need to cut down on them and not let them be the largest part of your life.

Getting Started

Exactly what you will do depends on your personal needs and abilities. However, the idea is that you do things that you actually like doing and enjoy. You do, however, have to make sure that you only do what you can.

Often, frail elderly people are unable to tolerate aerobic exercise routines on a regular basis due to lack of endurance. But while age-related changes in the cardiovascular system have significant effects on performance, it has been estimated that 50% of endurance loss can be related to decreased muscle mass.

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Written by Ingrid Macher

Certified Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Motivator - I have a passion for helping people change their lives. I started out helping my friends and now I give advice and tips to perfect strangers who have now become my friends. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change my life even if I could. This kind of happy is truly a gift and I’ll do whatever it takes to be able to give this gift to others.

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