We’re constantly being told that staying active is the key to maintaining good health – and it’s never too late to start. From cancer to heart and circulatory diseases, physical activity can help prevent and improve a range of health conditions, meaning that keeping active in old age is crucial to remaining healthy and independent.
The benefits of keeping active in old age
According to NHS guidance on exercising as you get older, over 65s are the UK’s most sedentary age group, with many adults spending ten hours or more each day sitting or lying down. This level of inactivity in older people leads to a range of health problems – from obesity to heart disease, and even early death in comparison to the general population.
There are many reasons why we may become more sedentary as we get older. It might be due to weight problems, issues with pain, or simply feeling unsure about how to keep fit in old age.
Physical activity may feel challenging when you reach a certain age, but failing to keep your body moving puts you at risk of no longer being able to enjoy the things you used to do. Whether it’s playing with the grandchildren or walking to the shops, you may begin to experience aches and pains that weren’t there before.
There are many physical and mental benefits of getting moving, including maintaining your independence, avoiding health problems and improving your general wellbeing:
- Keeping active in old age reduces the chance of illness and chronic diseases. Research has found that engaging in regular physical activity improves both immune and digestive functioning. It is also medically proven that individuals who partake in weekly exercise are at lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, arthritis, hip fracture, depression and cognitive disease.
- Exercise for elderly people aids mobility and prevents falls. Physical activity improves muscle strength and bone density, which in turn improves balance and coordination. As such, exercise can help prevent falls and reduce the risk of hip fracture by 40%.
- Regular physical activity improves sleep. Regular exercise can help increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep. Deep sleep is the most restorative sleep phase, and supports good immune function, cardiac health and symptoms of anxiety.
- Endorphins boost mood and self-confidence. Physical activity is renowned for being a stress reliever, and the endorphins that are released during exercise can help ease feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety.
- Exercise can enhance cognitive function. Staying active can support a range of cognitive functions related to memory loss, cognitive decline and the slow progression of diseases such as dementia.
How to keep fit in old age
So, what exactly is physical activity? In short, it’s anything that gets your body moving. From walking to gardening and recreational sport, engaging in 150 minutes of moderate activity each week can help you stay pain-free and reduce your risk of illness well into old age.
With so many social activities for the elderly on offer, there are lots of great ways to keep moving. Many people want to stay in touch with society – their community, friends and neighbours – and there are plenty of activities for elderly people that ensures they are able to keep doing that:
- Walking. Walking is one of the best exercises for the over 65s, as it requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere. To fit in a little extra walking each day you could try taking the stairs instead of using the lift, parking further away from your destination to get in a few more steps, or joining a local walking group to walk with other people and meet new friends.
- Water aerobics. Water aerobics is a good form of exercise for elderly people as water can help to reduce arthritis and other joint pain. It doesn’t add pressure to joints and can also act as resistance, meaning strength exercises can be performed without needing weights.
- Ballroom and line dancing. Ballroom and line dancing can reduce the risk of falling. The slower structured dances can help older people build ankle and core strength, developing balance whilst also being a fun way to keep fit and socialise with others.
- Gardening. There are many benefits of gardening for the elderly. It is enjoyable, reduces stress levels, promotes relaxation, requires use of all motor skills and improves mobility and strength – not to mention the delicious home-grown produce as a result!
- Senior fitness classes. Senior fitness groups are among the most effective social activities for elderly people, with a variety of different classes on offer that can help boost mood and energy. From pilates to tai chi and seated exercise, senior fitness groups focus on gentle exercise to help you regain fitness at your own pace.
- Yoga. Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise for elderly people, helping them to improve their balance and keep joints flexible. Yoga poses are designed to build strength, and can be adapted to any level.
- Doubles tennis. Playing tennis isn’t just for young people! It can help keep your mind and body healthy as you age. There are many health benefits associated with playing tennis, including upper and lower body strength and maintaining a healthy weight.
Do you need support taking part in the social activities you enjoy?
At IP Homecare our live-in carers can enable you to continue taking part in the social activities you love. Our live-in care service means that someone is on hand 24 hours a day, providing professional support and companionship. This service is also available on a short term respite basis, so even if your loved ones are away you can continue doing the things you enjoy.
If you would like to find out more about our services, contact our team of friendly experts today. Alternatively, call us on 0808 274 8827.