Benefits of exercise in the elderly population | Back In Motion

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Exercise for those >65 years old

Published: 15 October 2018

Physical inactivity is recognised as a risk factor for a number of health conditions; multiple cancers, obesity, stroke, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It has often been said that if we could put all the benefits of exercise into a pill, everyone would be taking it!!

So do people really dislike exercise outright, or have they just not yet found something they enjoy?

Some say they don’t like physical activity because they imagine those sweaty, high intensity workout commercials, which for some people is fantastic, but not for everyone. Others fear exercise because they are ‘too tired’ or ‘don’t want to be sore,’ but the evidence consistently promotes exercise as a strategy for getting more energy.

In fact, the Australian National Health Guidelines put forward a few recommendations regarding exercise, particularly for those >65 years old.

1. Older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities.

This means that whilst going for a run or gym work out may not be suitable, there are still plenty of other options which you can consider.

2. Older people should be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

Think about movement and activity as an opportunity, not an inconvenience; be it to socialise, blow off some steam, or increase energy. If you try to be active every day in as many ways as you can like walking to the shops, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, even walking to the letter box instead of asking others, you will already be on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Every bit counts!

3. 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, preferably all days.

Moderate physical activity is defined as an activity that causes an increase in heart rate, and mild shortness of breathe, but still able to hold a conversation.

So working up a light sweat and still holding a conversation is enough to improve your mood, sleep, fitness, and reduce the chances of developing chronic diseases.

Other benefits include:

  • Increased bone density
  • Increased cardiovascular endurance
  • Reduced risk of falls
  • Improved mood
  • Increased energy
  • Improved sleep quality

Just to name a couple!!

If you can, a little bit of vigorous activity is great for extra health and fitness boosts!

4. Older people who have stopped physical activity, or who are starting a new physical activity, should start at a level that is easily manageable and gradually build up the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.

We all have to start somewhere, so if that means making the most of your everyday activities first, then progressing to 5-10 minutes of gentle exercises it is still a great start! Plus you will be taking steps towards a healthier, happier and more enjoyable life.

If this peaks your interests, or you can contact one of our physio’s who would love to chat through some ideas of how you can find what exercise suits you best.

Nick Callanan - physiotherapist - Back In Motion Clayton