What Exercise for Older People?

Most people accept that it is important to remain active as we age. In fact, exercise is the most effective action we can take to improve our life expectancy and well-being. What is the best form of activity to do though? It can be a challenge to know what is appropriate and ideal, particularly if you have health problems. There are 3 things to consider:

(1) What are you trying to achieve with exercise? Different exercise has different effects. Exercise that raises our heart rate is good for cardio-vascular health and our general level of fitness or endurance. Lower limb strengthening with improve our ability to walk, climb stairs and get out of a chair. Weight-bearing exercise is good for bone strength, particularly those with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Understanding what you want to get out of exercise is important in choosing what to do.

(2) What health problems do you have? Appropriate exercise will depend on what health problems you have. Arthritis, osteoporosis, lung problems, poor balance and diabetes are examples of health problems which will affect your ability to do certain exercises. For example, swimming or hydrotherapy is a great form of exercise for those who suffer from arthritis. If you have poor balance, walking might not be appropriate as it can actually increase your likelihood of falling.

(3) What do you enjoy? To get the benefits of exercise, it should be done regularly. It is regarded that a minimum amount is 3 times per week, but some evidence suggests it should be daily to get significant benefit. So it needs to be something you enjoy so you will stick with it. Find something you think you’ll like, and give it a go!

If you need advice on appropriate exercise for you, particularly if you have a health problem, a physiotherapist can help you with this.

Stay active!

Anthony Imms

Physiotherapist and advocate for healthy ageing

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net