Keeping Active in Old Age

Learn which exercises can reduce your risk of falling

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This page was last updated on 9 August 2022

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    Exercising regularly is important to do at any age however, it is especially essential to do an older age so you are strong enough to remain steady on your feet. Being inactive puts you at higher risk of falling, heart disease, obesity, stroke and diabetes.

    Benefits of Keeping Active

    There are endless benefits of staying active in old age, exercise improves your physical health and mental health which in return keeps you independent and thriving.

    As we get older our bones and muscles naturally become weaker, this means we need to regularly exercise to keep them strong. A strong body enables you to do the things you enjoy in life such as going for walks with friends, playing with the grandkids and going out to the shops.

    The risk of falling and developing a serious medical condition is greatly reduced when maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercise stresses bones and muscles which results in them building more cells. Exercise also helps you to maintain a healthy weight and keeps your organs functioning properly especially your heart.

    How Often Should You Exercise?

    It is recommended that older adults aged 65 and over should get at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week. That averages out to around 20 minutes of exercise every day.

    Along with this, you should also do strength training exercises 2-3 times a week.

    A good tip for getting in your daily exercise is to incorporate it into your daily routine, why not kill two birds with one stone.

    Incorporate Exercise Into Your Daily Routine By:
    • Walking to the shop
    • Gardening
    • Walking the dog
    • Taking the stairs over an elevator
    • Heavy housework
    • Playing with the grandkids

    It’s okay to rest if you are tired out from a previous day of exercise, your body needs time to recover. Pushing yourself too much can cause more harm than good. Discuss your exercise plan with a GP, your GP will be able to advise the best types of activities for you and what is too much, this will keep you safe and on track when exercising.

    Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

    Cardio and strength exercises are the best ways to strengthen your muscles. Cardio is especially good for your heart health and can be low impact for older adults.

    Muscle-strengthening exercises for seniors include:

    • Lifting weights
    • Walking
    • Carrying heavy shopping bags
    • Yoga
    • Heavy gardening
    • Tai chi
    • Squats

    It’s a good idea to focus on a different muscle each day, this will give your muscles time to recover and avoid overworking them.

    Weight-Bearing Exercises

    Weight-bearing exercises are great for improving the strength of your muscles and bones which also helps improve your balance and stability.

    Weight-bearing exercises for seniors include:

    • Hiking
    • Push-ups and wall push-ups
    • Heal raising
    • Stair climbing
    • Tennis
    • Dancing
    • Skipping
    • Weight lifting
    • Elastic band exercises

    It is recommended that you speak to your GP before attempting high impact exercises such as tennis and hiking.

    Balance Improving Exercises

    Balance improving exercises are a vital part of fall prevention. The better your balance is the less likely you are to fall. Feeling unsteady on your feet can limit your independence which can have a knock-on effect on your mental wellbeing.

    Exercises for seniors to improve balance include:

    • Balancing on one leg
    • Sideways walking
    • Heal-to-toe walking
    • Yoga
    • Stair climbing
    • Tai chi

    How to Create an Exercise Plan

    It is a good idea to plan your weekly exercises at the beginning of your week. This way you are more likely to get all the exercise you need and it gives your week some structure. Use a notebook, diary or download our monthly calendar here for free and start planning what exercises you want to do each day.

    Tips for Creating an Exercise Plan:
    • Speak to your GP about the exercises you are planning on doing to make sure they are safe for you.
    • Plan ahead by scheduling your exercises for the week.
    • Start slowly – don’t overwhelm yourself with too many exercises if you haven’t been active in a while.
    • Adapt your exercise plan as your body becomes stronger.
    • Choose activities and exercises that you enjoy.
    • Look into joining exercise classes for older adults or the gym.
    • Allow yourself time to rest and catch your breath after each exercise.
    • Don’t exercise if you feel unwell.
    • Give your muscles time to recover, you don’t have to exercise every day.

    Exercising With a Medical Condition

    It can be hard exercising with a medical condition especially with symptoms such as joint pain, chest pain, mobility problems and breathlessness. The best thing to do is to speak to your GP and ask them what exercises you should avoid. This way you know that when you’re exercising you are safe and within your ability.