Regular physical activity for older people is essential for optimal physical and mental health; specifically, a reduction of falls risk and injuries from falls, prevention or mitigation of functional limitations, and also as an effective therapy for many chronic diseases and decreases mortality risk.
There is evidence that physical activity programmes can maintain or improve the physical function of aged-care residents.
What are the benefits of physical activity?
- increase balance and coordination
- increase muscle strength
- prevent falls
- prevent and manage health conditions such as stroke, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, cancers and depression
- reduce the risk of premature death
- improve sleep
- enhance wellbeing and quality of life
- increase social interaction.
Tips to get you up and active
Exercise on land cramping your style (or your joints)? Water aerobics may be a good alternative, exercising in the water is a great low impact way to keep in shape, perfect for wary bones and joints. There are a myriad of things that can stop you from being active as you grow older (and wiser), the key is being creative. If getting wet isn’t your forte, then Yoga or Tai Chi may be more up your alley, easy on the joints but nurturing for the body and mind.
Exercising in groups keeps you accountable and is a great way to keep each other motivated. Residents from Bupa Northhaven Retirement Village in Whangaparaoa, watch a New Zealand Arthritis video twice per week. This involves the residents sitting down as a group and exercising their arms and legs, perfect if you’re restricted from standing.
Try Something New
You don’t know whether you’ll like it or not until you try it (well, most of the time). Routine is a positive for many reasons; so if you’re able to work in ‘trying something new’ on a weekly/fortnightly/monthly basis, then you’ll be set. Learning new skills is a great way to keep not only your body, but your mind active.
This may be an obvious way to stay active, but walking is overlooked much of the time. If you find walking boring, then try adding something interesting. Take your dog, the neighbour’s dog, a friend’s dog, or any other dog, for a walk. Take a camera with you to snap those beautiful evening sunsets. Even go window shopping while you walk around the mall. Staying active doesn’t have to be boring if you think outside the box.
Make it Fun
Find something that you enjoy doing and do it regularly. Whether that’s walking, gardening, bowls, creating art/crafts or even volunteering, as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’ll want to keep doing it.