Staying active as we age

It’s important to exercise and stay active as you get older. Exercise lowers your risk of developing several health conditions. These include heart disease and dementia. It can also reduce your risk of falls.

Many adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 or more hours each day sitting or lying down. This makes them the most sedentary age group. As you get older, it’s important to remain active to stay healthy and maintain your independence.

No matter your age, ability or health condition, there are many options to add physical movement and activity to your life. It’s never too late to start!

Benefits of staying active

Physical activity can lower your risk of developing a myriad of chronic health conditions. It can also help you manage conditions you are living with. Conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, obesity and arthritis. It can also help reduce the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression.

Exercise is proven to be good for your mental well-being, releasing mood-boosting endorphins.

It can:

  • improve your mood
  • increase your self-esteem
  • give a sense of achievement
  • help you relax
  • relieve stress

What is physical activity?

Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. This includes anything from walking, to gardening to recreational sport.

If you’re just starting out, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. This might sound a lot, but you can break this down to 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week. You can split this down further, if you need to, into 10 minute bouts.

Examples of moderate activity are:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on flat ground, or with few hills
  • playing doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower

Chores like shopping, cooking or housework don’t count towards your 150 minutes. This is because they don’t generally require enough effort to get your heart rate up. Although they do help break up sedentary time.

Already active?

If you’re already active, you should aim for 75 minutes of vigorous activity over a week. Vigorous activity will cause you to get warmer and your heart will beat rapidly, making it difficult to carry on a normal conversation.

Examples of vigorous activity are:

  • climbing stairs
  • playing sport
  • jogging
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • singles tennis
  • energetic dancing

How to start

Don’t try and do too much too fast. Start small and build exercise into your daily activities. This will make it easier to form a habit. Even something small like stretches while watching TV or getting off the bus one stop earlier to walk the rest of the way.

There’s no need to buy expensive equipment or join the gym. You can play bowls or dance. Walking is one of the easiest and best ways to improve your fitness. It’s cheap and accessible.

Keep your eyes peeled for our blog post about building healthy habits!