Exercise Tips for Older Adults: Talking Lifestyle Radio

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Written by
Liz Edlin
Physiotherapist

Published on
01 Aug 2017

Exercise is important for everyone at every stage of life. Today Liz Edlin takes a look at the exercise recommendations for older adults, the over 65’s.

The Recommendations

The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days, or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Your exercise can be broken down into smaller blocks of 5-10 minutes, rather than 30 minutes continuous each day.

The UK NHS guidelines (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-older-adults.aspx ) recommend:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week and strength exercises at least 2 days a week

Or

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week and strength exercises at least 2 days a week

Or

  • A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. (eg: two 30-minute runs, plus 30 minutes of fast walking, equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity) and strength exercises at least 2 days a week

 

I haven’t exercised in the past, is it safe to start now?

Exercise in some shape or form is appropriate for everyone, but your starting point will likely be different. Speak to your Doctor before undertaking any new exercise routine to ensure that there are no medical reasons or precautions that you need to undertake.

The key to starting any new exercise routine is to start with a small amount and gradually increase as your body adapts. It could be as simple as a 5 minute walk to the shop and then a 5 minute walk home. After a week or so you may be ready to increase to a 7 minute walk each way and then a 10 minute walk.

 

So what exercise would be appropriate?

Walking is probably the easiest exercise to get you started. If you are a golfer, walking the 18 holes rather than using a buggy is a good way to get in some extra exercise. Swimming or aqua aerobics is a great exercise for people suffering from joint aches and pains, as it is much easier to move in the water without the impact. Remember to maintain adequate hydration as you do not realise how much you sweat when exercising in the pool, especially if it is a heated hydrotherapy pool. Team sports and racquet sports are another great way to get some exercise and socialise at the same time. For those who like the gym, there are the options of classes, cardio equipment and weight training to keep you fit.

Exercises that challenge balance are also very important to help prevent falls, slips and trips. Exercises such as Tai Chi, Pilates, Yoga and dance classes will help to challenge your balance. Walking on uneven surfaces such as trails, or the golf course will also challenge your balance and help to improve it. If you are concerned that your balance is deteriorating, you can start by simply standing on one leg while standing at the kitchen bench, aiming to keep your balance for 20 seconds. The more you challenge your balance, the better it gets.

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What other exercises can I do at home?

A great exercise to strengthen the legs is repeatedly moving from sitting to standing without using your hands. Start sitting on a stable chair that is quite high, lean forward and use your legs to stand up. Progress to a lower chair to challenge you further. Push ups against a wall are a good way to strengthen your arms and you can progress this to push ups at the kitchen bench.

 

What about the risk of injury?

Injuries can and do happen, but if you gradually increase your exercise and make sure you warm up appropriately you will help to reduce your risk of injury. If an injury does occur it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to stop exercising all together. Continue with exercise that does not cause pain or aggravation to your injury. You may be able to continue walking, ride a bike or get in the swimming pool as an alternative to keep exercising while your injury recovers.

 

Want to hear more from Liz?

Listen HERE for Liz Edlins live segment on Talking Lifestyle with Ed Philips! Liz will be making a guest appearance at 1pm fortnightly so tune in to 1278AM for the Tuesday Tune Up!