The importance of exercise as we get older!

As we get older our ability to perform physical tasks declines. We move less quickly, struggle to lift heavy objects and want to sit more.

It is well documented that inactivity accelerates our reduction in physical capacity and this has a direct impact on our ability to function on a daily basis.

For many growing old appears to involve inevitable loss of energy, function and independence; but this need not be the case.  The frail health and loss of function associated with ageing (difficulty walking longer distances, climbing stairs or carrying the shopping) in in large due to low levels of physical activity by many of us as we get older.

It is never too late to enjoy the vast benefits associated with being more physically active and as we get older we have a lot more to gain than younger people.

The benefits include:

  • Improvements in muscular strength which helps to keep us independent, reduce the risk of falls and the risk of fractures associated with falls.
  • Prolongs life (or to put it more starkly reduces the risk of death) or debilitation from conditions like coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer and diabetes.
  • Improves our mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and promotes improvements in mood and feelings of general well-being.
  • Helps maintain bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Reduce incidence of lower back pain.
  • Helps control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis
  • Wider social interaction with other people
  • Improved cognitive function.

What should we be doing?
Some physical activity is better than none and more provides greater health benefits.
We should be active daily. Over a week our activity should add up to at least 150 minutes in bouts of 10 minutes or more.  Look at doing activity to improve our muscular strength on 2-3 days per week and include activity to improve balance and coordination. Overall, try to minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary.