Head Physiotherapist at Lynwood Village Therapy Centre, Rosaria Toohey, explains why regular exercise is just as important, and potentially even more beneficial, when you’re over 65.
It’s easy to fall into the ‘it’s too late for me, there’s no point starting to exercise’ frame of mind when you reach a certain age. It’s especially true if you have joint pain or any other health conditions; exercise may feel risky, difficult or uncomfortable. But the benefits are so significant it can change your life so it’s incredibly important to try. Department of Health figures show that only 13% of women and 17% of men aged 65 and over are achieving the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week making this age group the least active in the country.
You’re not aiming to run a triathlon or develop a six pack. Exercise at this age is about about enabling you to carry out every day activities easily, while enjoying better all-round physical health. Workouts should include simple, functional, repeatable movements, similar to those you use in daily life, to keep you flexible and mobile. You’ll be amazed at the difference regular exercise can make to your balance, stability and cardiovascular health as well as your stamina and your confidence which are so important to maintaining a good quality of life.
The many benefits of exercise
In case you weren’t convinced of the benefits, it might help to know that exercise:
improves the mental health of older adults
improves complexion and skin vitality
enhances cognitive function and overall psychological well-being
reduces depression and anxiety
increases self-esteem and social contact.
Start gently and build up
Make sure the exercise you choose is safe, and guided by a skilled physiotherapist or fitness instructor. As long as the programme is moderate, graduated and performed in a safe environment you can’t go wrong giving it a go. It is advisable to let your GP know that you want to try and get fitter and how you plan to do this.
Important things to remember:
Gentle rhythmical exercise eases sore arthritic joints most of the time
Feeling a bit short of breath initially as you start up your exercise sessions is normal
Don’t overdo it but start with just 15-20 mins and gradually increase it to 45 minutes as your stamina improves
60% of women have indicated that they would exercise if they had someone to go with. So try and find and ‘Exercise Buddy’ and enjoy getting fit together!
An excellent place to get some good safe walking exercise is with a trolley in a big supermarket or garden centre. Having a trolley helps keep you steady, and the wide isles afford a great place to walk steadily up and down. Go at quiet times if you can. This is particularly useful in the winter when the pavements may be slippery.
Whatever you choose to do – keep it up and you’ll soon reap the many rewards of regular activity.