As you get older, exercise can feel like a chore. Niggling aches and pains may result in you avoiding physical activity and you may lose interest in keeping active. This can lead to ill-health in the longer term, so it’s important to maintain physical mobility by making some changes in your daily routine. Making a start is the key. Mustering the motivation to take those first steps could be the beginning of a better life for you, in more ways than one.
Active Ageing Week is a national campaign to raise awareness about the importance of staying active in older age and motivates older people to invest in their future health by making some small changes right now.
We all know that exercise is beneficial for our physical wellbeing, but you may not realise that it also has a part to play in keeping us connected with other people and socially more active. Loneliness and social isolation are common issues shared by older people.
The loss of mobility can have an impact on our participation in activities, our ability to meet with friends, attend family events, or even keep up with the grandkids.
We have all heard the saying ‘use it or lose it’ and studies have shown that elderly people who stay active feel better, are happier and more able to maintain close friendships.
As you get older, you may find yourself saying things like exercise isn’t for you, or you don’t need as much physical activity now, or don’t feel welcome participating in activities that attract younger adults. You may even notice yourself worrying that you might injure yourself. This mindset could be preventing you from reaching your health goals and having a better quality of life.
Exercising doesn’t need to be intense and it doesn’t need to be a chore. The most important thing is that you make a start. The theme of Active Ageing Week is “Move Your Way” which is all about finding activities which suit you best and finding ways to participate and get involved. Adding some sort of exercise into your daily routine will quickly become a healthy habit. Soon you will be making it a priority and scheduling your day around that small amount of time that could actually make a big difference to your wellbeing.
Benefits of exercise for senior citizens
Active ageing is important and may help you remain independent for longer. Staying active can help with:
- Improving Mental Health – Exercise releases natural chemicals in your body called endorphins which make you feel happier. You may also notice your stress levels decrease, your mood improves, and by doing some physical activity, you’ll feel more resilient. This can help create a positive ageing mindset to help ward off the negative thoughts and feelings about ageing.
- Building Muscles – Exercise can help slow down the loss of muscle mass which starts to happen when we reach middle age. Building muscle strength means that everyday activities such as lifting grocery items, hanging washing or climbing stairs will be less difficult.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Regular exercise can keep your weight in check and help prevent the risk of diseases such as diabetes. integratedliving has Dietitians which can help you with healthy eating plan and a range of programs and exercise classes.
- Strengthening Bones – Bone density also starts to decline in middle age, which means older people are more at risk of fractures if they fall. Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training, using dumbbells or exercise bands, can improve bone strength and delay the progress of osteoporosis.
- Cardiac Wellness – Exercise can improve your cardiorespiratory fitness by increasing the flow of blood to the heart and improving the oxygen in your muscles. Our Cardiac Wellness Program is devised and run by facilitators who are health professionals. They will work with you to develop important health goals to help you take steps towards a healthier heart.
- Increased flexibility - The joints of the body require regular movement to remain supple and healthy. In particular, people with arthritis can benefit from aerobic and strengthening exercise programs. Our Stretch and Flow at home classes provide a gentle exercise program to encourage flexibility and movement.
Make a Move - Your Way
To get started, speak to your General Practitioner or health professional before participating in any new physical activity and find out what the best type of exercise is to meet your needs. There are many options to choose from including:
Walking – enjoy some fresh air and sunshine; walk with a friend; choose the pace and distance you want to go. The best part is, it’s free!
Tai chi or yoga – there are many councils across Australia that provide free tai chi or yoga classes for seniors. These are great for gentle stretching, which keeps you limber and easily able to move. They are also good for balance as well as providing opportunities to meet other people your age.
Swimming – you don’t have to be a super swimmer to enjoy the pool. Many public swimming pools offer aqua aerobics classes for seniors. You can even walk laps in the pool. Older people with sore or stiff joints often find the weightlessness of being in the water helps with movement.
Strength training – using some small weights, resistance bands or exercise machines, can help to build muscle and body strength. Many stores have sets of dumbbells which are inexpensive, or you could incorporate some strength training while walking with a friend and using some council equipment in your local park.
How can integratedliving help you get started?
We have several Wellness Centres in regional areas with fully accredited Exercise Physiologists who can help you improve strength, balance and confidence in a positive and welcoming environment. They also provide a hub of social activity and support.
If you would prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home, integratedliving’s Virtual Wellness Programs could be a great alternative. This virtual exercise program can be done using a tablet or computer. A program will be developed to suit your goals which you can do in your own time. You will receive regular coaching calls to keep you motivated and progressing towards your goals.
That’s what we are all about at integatedliving. We want to help you live well, feel well and be well. Our staff will work with you to improve and maintain flexibility, with the aim of avoiding injuries and reducing muscle pain and stiffness.
Priscilla was finding it difficult to walk and to function generally and believes the program has really helped her. “It has been wonderful. I wouldn’t be able to function without it. If I could come seven days a week I would. It is not just the physical changes, it’s the connection and support I receive when I come in,” she says. “It’s the best thing I ever did.”
Wellness Centre staff say Priscilla never misses a class, turns up with a positive attitude and works consistently to make changes in her life. Over the last few months, they have noticed Priscilla has started to exercise at home, eat healthier, and even start a daily gratitude journal after attending our Let’s Have a Conversation Gratitude Class.
Our aim at integratedliving is to keep you independent and living well in your own home. Our Wellness Centres and Virtual Wellness Programs also give you the opportunity to meet friends your own age in a comfortable and friendly setting. Keeping active is good for your whole wellbeing: your physical, emotional and mental health. Making those small changes in your daily routine now, and investing some time to improve your health, could help you to have a better quality of life in the future.
Source: Physical activity for seniors - Better Health Channel
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