Healthy, Happy & Wise: Gentle Exercises for the Elderly
Some people associate ageing with a general deterioration in one’s physical health and a loss of mental sharpness, leading to an overall lower quality of life. Thankfully this doesn’t need to be the case, with regular physical activity in the form of exercise being one of the core foundations of a healthier life well into your golden years.
As little as 30 minutes of gentle exercise a day is enough to get your heart pumping and lungs breathing in a way to will make you feel more energised and capable in tackling everyday tasks. So exactly what types of exercises should you be doing to maintain your health well into your advanced years you may be asking? Continue reading for more detailed information on three key types of gentle exercises for the elderly.
1. Regular walking for health
The first form of exercise for the elderly is also one of the most accessible with the lowest impact on the human body – walking. Whether it’s a short 10 minute stroll around the block to pick up the newspaper from the local milk bar or a longer 1 hour walk across the neighbourhood with your dogs in-tow, the main aim is to put on your shoes and get moving! Regular walking for health not only gets your heart pumping at a faster rate and the fresh air of the great outdoors into your lungs, it’s also great for maintaining a sense of connection with the world.
- Walking is one of the simplest and most low impact forms of exercise, accessible to all
- 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 as much as 50% and protect against bowel and breast cancer (or prostate cancer in men)
- Don’t forget to stretch before and after you walk!
2. Stretching for flexibility
With tender joints and hamstring injuries common complaints amongst the elderly, maintaining your overall flexibility and agility becomes even more important as you progress through your golden years. Regular stretching is one of the easiest ways to maintain the flexibility of your muscles and joints, reducing general muscle tension and increasing the distance your limbs can extend before an injury occurs. This is especially the case for runners and anyone who uses their arms or legs on a daily basis. Even better is the fact that stretching can be done anywhere and at anytime, with 3 minutes of stretches immediately before or after a workout, or 5-10 minutes of stretching for flexibility every 3rd day sufficient for good results.
- Stretching is an ideal way to maintain muscle and joint flexibility into old age
- Stretch 3 minutes before and after a workout, such as running, walking or weight training
- Alternatively, stretch 5-10 minutes every 3rd day for general flexibility and injury prevention
3. Strength training for elderly
Not just for the young and superfit, strength training or ‘weight training’, as it’s more commonly known, is one of the most important forms of physical exercise for anyone regardless of their age, gender or current level of fitness. With advanced age often comes a slowdown in metabolism, loss of muscle mass and issues with blood sugar levels. “Pumping Iron” and other forms of strength training which may include machine weights is an effective method to deal with all these issues and more, not only improving your physical health but lifting your mood in the process.
- Strength training is appropriate for people of all ages, gender and fitness levels
- Regular strength training, which may include free weights and machine weights, can effectively increase metabolism, build muscle mass and reduce regulate blood sugar levels in the elderly
- Ensure you check with your doctor before you embark on a demanding strength training regimen to guard against unnecessary injury!
For more information on Japara, our range of word-class aged care facilities and our high quality aged care services, please visit us at japara.com.au or call us today on (03) 9649 2100 for a friendly chat with one our staff.