Exercise and the Older Adult

Exercise and the Older Adult

Exercise and physical activity is extremely important as you get older, helping you maintain your independence and improve the quality of your life. Research shows the number of older adults who are physically active has been increasing over the last 10 years, however elderly people still make up the most sedentary age group, with six out of 10 older adults classed as inactive.older adults lifting weights


If you don’t stay active, all the things you’ve always enjoyed doing may start to become that little bit harder. You may struggle to pursue simple pleasures, such as going to the shops, playing with the grandchildren, and meeting up with friends. You might start to get aches and pains that you never experienced before, and have less energy to go out. This can all lead to being less able to look after yourself and lead the life you are used to.

10 benefits of physical activity for older adults:


                1      Can add years to your life

                2      Improves quality of your life

                3      Maintains healthy weight

                4      Manages stress

                5      Improves quality of sleep

                6      Helps reduce your risk of falls

                7      Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.

                8      Helps to improve  your balance and coordination 

                9      Can help you continue to live independently

                10    Makes you feel great!


If you want to stay pain-free, reduce your risk of mental illness, and be able to go out and stay independent well into old age, you are advised to keep moving. It’s that simple.


What should you do?

Adults aged 65 and older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should:


Do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week. Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. Or 75 older adults exercisingminutes of more vigorous activity per week such as jogging, cycling, hiking, swimming fast etc. 


Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework don’t count towards your 150 minutes, because the effort isn’t enough to raise your heart rate, but they are important to break up periods of sitting.


Doing muscle strengthening exercises two or more days a week is important for movement, building strong bones, maintaining a healthy weight, and regulating blood sugar and blood pressure. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include digging, lifting and carrying while gardening, carrying groceries, pilates, circuit training, step aerobics, exercises using exercise bands, hand-held weights etc.


Older adults at risk of falls should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week . Activities such as pilates, backward / sideways walking, walking on heels and toes, standing from a sitting position and standing on one foot are all good balancing exercises to include in your daily routine and can help improve your stability.


If you have any health issues or other concerns, consult your GP before undertaking any new exercise programme.


More Information

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Liam Leech, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

Liam Leech

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

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