Exercise for the elderly
Exercise is highly important for a healthy lifestyle and is great for both body and mind. There are many positive effects of exercise, including improvements to motivation and mood.
It is never too late to get fit. Despite this, many elderly people believe that it is no longer appropriate for them to exercise. Some common myths that prompt this belief include:
- Our bodies do not need as much physical activity as we age.
- Elderly people are physically weak and frail.
- Only vigorous exercise is beneficial.
- Exercise is dangerous for elderly people because they may injure themselves.
Just 30 minutes of gentle exercise per day is enough to get your lungs breathing and heart pumping. This will make you feel more energised and able to carry out everyday tasks.
Types of exercise to maintain health into your older years:
- Regular walking
Walking every day is the most accessible form of exercise with the lowest impact on our bodies. Whether it’s a 15-minute stroll around the block or a 1 hour walk with your dogs, walking regularly gets your heart pumping and some fresh air into your lungs.
- 30 minutes of walking 5 days a week is enough to cut your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes by up to 40%.
- 60 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week can cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 50% and protect you against bowel, prostate or breast cancer.
- Strength training
Regular strength training, including free weights and machine weights, is one of the most important forms of exercise regardless of your age or gender.
- Regular strength training can effectively build muscle mass, increase metabolism and regulate blood sugar levels in the elderly.
- You must make sure to check with your doctor before starting any strength training to minimise any risk of injury.
Maintaining your flexibility becomes more and more important as we age, especially considering that the elderly experience increasingly tender joints and common hamstring injuries. Regular stretching is an easy way to maintain flexibility of our muscles and joints, reducing muscle tension and extending our limbs to prevent injury. Stretching can be done anywhere and at any time.
- Stretch for 3 minutes before and after a workout, such as a walk or strength session.
- Alternatively, stretch 5-10 minutes every few days for general flexibility and injury prevention.
- Ensure you’re exercising in a safe and comfortable way.
- Exercise with friends – make it an enjoyable social occasion.
- Choose activities you find interesting. You are more likely to continue an exercise routine if it’s fun and doesn’t feel like a chore.
- Begin slowly and aim for small improvements.
- Drink plenty of water and make sure to not get dehydrated.
If you or a loved one are interested in the aged care services available at Japara, contact us to have a friendly chat with one of our staff or to book a tour on 1800 52 72 72.