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Exercise for life: why exercising for seniors is so important

9 April, 2019

This week we focus on the benefits of exercise for elderly Australians and some easy ways to get moving later in life.

An elderly woman with her hands up in an exercising position.It’s no secret that exercise can help you stay energetic, healthy and mentally fit. But the older you get, the tougher it can seem to be to get off the couch and get moving.

Indeed, research shows that many elderly Australians spend a large amount of time each day sitting or lying down. If no action is taken, this can lead to higher rates of health problems like heart disease, obesity, lifestyle-related conditions like diabetes and a greater chance of developing dementia.

Why is exercise so important in old age?

Thankfully, age doesn’t need to be a barrier to exercise and many health benefits flow from active living into your later years. Some key positives include:

- increased muscle mass to support movement and prevent falls,
- high bone density to reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis, and
- a healthier heart, which can help mitigate against the risk heart disease.

According to the Alzheimer's Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50%. Exercise has the incredible ability to stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old connections and make new ones, which protects against Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience heart disease and stroke, both of which are associated with increasing the chances of developing dementia.

Other benefits of exercise include better lung health, decreased risk of joint issues and lower levels of body fat, which can be associated with problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

How much exercise is needed?

When it comes to exercise frequency, the more regular you’re active the better. The rule of thumb here is that people over 65, who are fit and have no health problems limiting their mobility, should aim to be active on a daily basis.

For overall health, it is recommended that seniors aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day, if possible.

What types of exercises are helpful?

For elderly Australians, the great thing is that staying active doesn’t mean slogging it out at the gym, pounding the pavement or swimming laps at the pool. Rather, some easy-to-achieve examples of activities that represent moderate exercise include water aerobics, dancing, riding a bike or even mowing the lawn on the weekend.

When it comes to getting more vigorous and building muscle, daily activities like carrying or moving groceries, digging or shovelling can be a great way to start. From there, you can think about yoga, lifting weights or doing push ups or sit-ups to supercharge your results.

When strength training, it takes time and repetition to build muscle. So it’s a good idea to make time to do specific strength exercises 2-3 times a week.

Do you need some inspiration? We have written about the best types of exercise for seniors with arthritis.

Remember, exercise comes with risks, so if you have a chronic illness or have been sedentary for some time, see a health professional before starting a new exercise routine.

Focus Care can help you achieve your exercise goals

Whether it’s some light gardening, swimming, gym sessions or group fitness activities that you enjoy, Focus Home Care can help you achieve your exercise goals. Your Care Manager will help you find the perfect fitness activity based on your needs and preferences, and your enthusiastic Care Workers can get you there and back, and will participate in the activity if you need some extra help.

Contact our friendly team today to discuss how we can help you stay fit and healthy while you live independently at home.

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