Keeping active in later life can often feel quite overwhelming, especially if you have been inactive for a while. However, this doesn’t have to be the case and there are many ways to get you out and about again. It has an array of benefits, and is probably more important at this stage in life than it ever has been. Participating in regular exercise improves health, strength and energy levels, as well as less physical aspects such as independence, wellbeing and memory.
Staying active does not mean that you have to go and start running marathons, or cycle 100 miles a week, it can be as simple as walking to the shops instead of taking the bus, playing an active game such as tennis on the Wii, or doing the gardening several times a week.
On average, adults over 65 years of age are spending 10 hours or more a day sitting or lying down, which in turn increases the chance of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. There is strong evidence that regular exercise and being active can decrease these health issues, as well as decreasing the risk of depression and dementia. Being active is also a great way to keep in touch with society, and have an encouraged social life, seeing the community, friends and family during activities is a great way to keep in touch. It is also a great in keeping your body moving so that you are able to retain your home independence for longer without the need of a carer or help from a family member. Keeping fit in combination with helpful mobility equipment at home will allow you to take on daily tasks much more easily. Even something as simple as getting in and out of the bath or shower can be made much easier if your body is kept physically active and if you have a walk-in bath or walk-in shower as well then it’s never been easier and safer.
So what classes as physical activity? Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving and your heart rate to increase from walking to recreational sports. The NHS recommends participating in 150 minutes of exercise a week, ideally doing something every day, but if not 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week as a guideline. It is medically proven that people benefit from this, and those that do regular exercise have:
• up to a 35% lower risk of heart disease and stroke
• up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
• up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
• up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
• a 30% lower risk of early death
• up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
• up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
• a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
• up to a 30% lower risk of depression
• up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
Getting started does not have to be a daunting prospect, speak to your family and friends, or your local GP and they will help you look at the options that best suit you. What you choose will be relevant to your own circumstances, but try to participate in activities that you enjoy, making it a more enjoyable experience for yourself and give you more excuses to keep mobile.