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Best Ways For Seniors To Stay Active And Fit

Enjoyable Elderly Physical Activities

Why Exercise is Important for Older People?

The NHS recommend that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and exercise the major muscles on two or more days a week.

Dr Justin Varney, lead for adult health and wellbeing at Public Health England said: “Doing 150 minutes a week cuts the chances of depression and dementia by a third”.

Studies have shown that when old age people exercised:

  • Memory skills were improved;

  • The risk of some diseases, including type-2 diabetes and some cancers are reduced.

  • The brain’s natural decline slows too, and we are also better able to avoid falls.

  • This in turn increases our life expectancy, and our life quality, and in turn reduces the occurance of depression.

Various national organisations provide information on exercise:

  • Independent age -

  • Centre for ageing better - increase awareness and uptake of strength and balance activity.

  • Everyday health.

  • The BBC give a list of exercises and advice in their special guides -

National & Local activity programmes:

  • Royal Voluntary Service community centres offer weekly programmes of activities.

  • Physiotherapy.

  • Locally one can find details at - The provide a postural stability class, to improve balance and co-ordination improve muscle strength increase confidence and improve posture and core stability.

  • There are many local classes or sports clubs that offer many forms of exercise, some voluntary and others paid.

For advice on your local services Independent Living Advisers (ILA) can source the most appropriate local organisation and let you know about the paid or voluntary services.

The BBC made a superb programme pulling together research last year on the ways in which exercise benefits us – read about it here: -

Included in the BBC programme, Professor Claudio Gil Soares de Araujo, an age and exercise specialist from Rio de Janiero university said,

“It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength and co-ordination also have a favourable influence on life expectancy.”

Also from the BBC, Swiss doctors noted a 50% reduction in falls when groups of over-65s exercised to music for an hour each week for six months. They also found an increase in both walking speed and stride length.

Types of best exercises for elder people:

  • aerobic activity,

  • exercise the major muscles,

  • body flexibility,

  • co-ordination.

UK National Health Service ‘choices’ guidelines for older adults aged 65 and over suggest those who are ‘generally fit’ and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily. Again aerobic and strength activities are advised.

Examples of aerobic activities that require vigorous effort include:

  • jogging or running,

  • aerobics,

  • swimming fast,

  • riding a bike fast or on hills,

  • singles tennis,

  • football,

  • hiking uphill,

  • energetic dancing.

Examples of aerobic activities that require moderate effort include:

  • walking,

  • water aerobics,

  • ballroom and line dancing,

  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills ,

  • playing doubles tennis,

  • pushing a lawn mower,

  • canoeing,

  • volleyball,

  • aerobic video workouts.

There are many ways aged people can strengthen their muscles, whether at home or in the gym.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:

  • carrying or moving heavy loads, such as groceries,

  • activities that involve stepping and jumping, such as dancing,

  • heavy gardening, such as digging or shovelling,

  • exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups or sit-ups,

  • yoga,

  • lifting light weights

  • watering plants in garden

Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework are important, as they break-up periods of sitting, and contribute to our exercise regimens.

The bad news however, is that there is a decline in aerobic exercise across all adults, that then accelerates in our later years. This age associated decline in aerobic capacity is accentuated by conditions such as cardiac, pulmonary and peripheral artery diseases. Often people lose the need to move, i.e. with TV remote controls, we no longer need to stand-up to operate TVs and many other appliances. Modern Kitchens are designed for easy access to everything and offices with swivel chairs lead us to not need to stand-up to reach different furniture.

In homes for the elderly, the carer will bring and place things within easy access so there is no need to stand or stretch to reach. For speed and ease limited moves are generally encouraged; and as we age, moving becomes slower: so time is more often needed. If movement is not practiced it may become more difficult, and start to compound the challenges.

ILA can help elders engage in enjoyable physical activities which in turn can benefit them, help them attain good health and live a happy life independently. ILA is home care service provider which is a paid-for service, that co-ordinates all other services for elders support whether they are public services, charitable solutions or paid for.

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