• Dee Wilson

Importance of physical activity for the elderly

Everyone knows that physical activity is important; but as we get older, activity levels tend to drop.

Physical inactivity can fast-track several health issues people tend to face in their later years; quickly reducing quality of life and limiting independence. Some of these health concerns include:

- High blood pressure

- Increased body fat

- Weakened bone strength

- Reduced mobility and flexibility

Many of the older population aren’t meeting their physical activity guidelines of doing at least two and a half hours of moderate activity each week. So why aren’t people moving? Some of the reasons include:

- Fear

- Perceived lack of time or indifference

- Unaware of how much activity one should be doing

- Lack of mobility

While these hesitations are valid, there are still plenty of ways golden oldies can meet their physical activity recommendations of 2.5 hours per week and help maintain a high quality of life.

The following are examples of how you can meet the guidelines, even for the most immobile or reluctant!

Walking: Walking is a great way to experience multiple physical activity benefits, and you don’t have to do a marathon either! If you live independently, speak to your neighbours about going for a morning or evening stroll. That will keep you connected with your community and provide social interaction too! If you live in a retirement village, speak to your activities coordinator about setting up a walking group. Even those less mobile can get involved and experience the social benefits from being a part of a group.

Stretching: Daily stretching is really important for mobility and flexibility, both things that like to deteriorate quickly with age. Doing some simple stretches each day, before you get out of bed or after eating a meal at the table, or even while you watching your favourite show, will have tremendous positive impacts on your body and physical wellbeing.

Swimming: Swimming is a wonderful activity as it is also great for circulation and muscular endurance. You don’t have to be knocking out laps at the local pool. You’ll get lots of benefits from water activities such as scaling up and down the side of a pool or trying to tread water using a floatation device or even just walking up and down the length of the pool. For those more adventurous souls, lots of local pools offer water aerobics which can be a lot of fun.

Now you’re armed with some great strategies to get up and get moving. Just remember to increase the amount of water you’re drinking daily and not to push yourself too hard -ease into your new exercise regime!


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