In the UK it has been estimated that 4 out of 10 people over the age of 50 do little or no exercise. With the number of over 50’s in the UK expected to rise by 37% to over 27million by 2031, physical activity in more sedentary individuals, but also maintenance or adaptation of current exercise habits in already-exercising individuals, should both be encouraged, reducing the risk of all-cause mortality.
The benefits of physical activity in the ageing individual have been widely documented. These include positive effects on the cardiovascular system, maintenance of bone mass, improvements in joint mobility and increases in muscle strength, improved sleep, cognitive function and, mood. Exercise for an ageing individual can also reduce anxiety, lessen depressive symptoms, improve body image notions and, reverse a person’s fear of activity. There is a body of scientific evidence to suggest that the positive effects of exercise can slow down and reverse the symptoms of ageing.
Physical activity for individuals over the age of 50 should include a combination of strength, balance, stretching and, cardio-vascular based exercises. The benefits you gain from physical activity will depend on your starting point and how much effort you put into it. You'll need to match your physical activity to your own needs and abilities. Participating in exercise should be enjoyable, but sometimes it may be important to set firm short and long-term goals that are specific, realistic and important to you.
Whatever your starting point, whether you are new to exercising or already participating in an exercise programme, try to include approximately 30 minutes physical activity in your daily life and remember to spend some time before and after exercising to warm up and cool down. These before-and-after activities help prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness.
There are many different ways to be active and exercise. The key is to find activities in a setting that you enjoy. If you fancy trying something new, why not book yourself in to our ‘Fitness for the over 50’s’ class or beginners Pilates, both of which are available at The Horder Centre and Horder Healthcare Tunbridge Wells. If you are interested in either of these classes then call 01892 600815.
WARNING: Ask your GP if you have any special limitations or needs that may prevent you from doing any type of physical activity.
Michael Anderson, Horder Healthcare Chartered Physiotherapist