Ageing should not, in itself, be a reason for you to stop exercising
However, some conditions which make it difficult to exercise are far more common amongst older adults.
Your metabolism affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. The more difficulty your body has in doing these tasks, the more difficult you will find exercise.
While less dangerous in the young, a fall can be devastating in later life. Muscle mass decreases as adults age – this is what makes falls so pervasive. Increased risk and more dangerous consequences mean something must be done to combat the loss of muscle mass.
Low sense of wellbeing
In the early 2000s, it was found that 20-30% of people aged over 65 had depression. This shocking statistic means it is likely that a lot of our older population struggle to find the motivation to exercise. That’s because this lack of motivation is a key symptom of depression.
Poor cognitive health
Dementia is one of the biggest health problems facing the older generation. When it becomes difficult to keep track of day-to-day tasks, exercise can easily fall by the wayside.
How to Combat the Risks
The best way to combat these conditions is to keep activity levels high before you fall into a vicious circle. However, if you already feel subject to some of these risks, remember: it’s never too late to start exercising.
Decreasing physical risk
As already discussed, decreased muscle mass is at the heart of an increased risk of falls. Improved muscle mass is a direct consequence of strengthened muscles. Therefore, if you can improve your muscle strength through building exercise into everyday life, you will be far less likely to fall.
To make it easier to exercise you must first improve your metabolism. One of the things thought to slow the metabolism is remaining sedentary for long periods each day. We suggest that everyone who is able should move about at frequent intervals to keep their body working as it should.
Health professionals agree that exercise is directly related to mood. This is because the brain releases endorphins and other ‘happy’ chemicals when you exercise. If you maintain your activity levels at a reasonable rate then you will be less likely to develop depression. If you’ve been struggling but you can push yourself that bit further, you may even be able to pull yourself out of a depressive episode by taking up regular exercise.
In addition to boosting mental wellbeing, exercise has been shown to improve brain power. For those living with cognitive illnesses like dementia, this can only be a good thing. Therefore it’s important to encourage exercise amongst these groups.
In 2017 the Alzheimer’s Society released an excellent resource on how to reduce your chance of developing dementia. Amongst others, they suggest that a way of reducing this risk is to keep physically active. If exercise can have a direct impact on the likelihood of developing cognitive health problems in the first place, we think everyone should aim for this lifestyle as soon as possible.
What sort of exercise is best for older people?
Everyone is different, however we recommend aiming for exercises which improve strength and balance.
Whilst gardening and groceries may seem like an obvious choice for daily exercise, some older people may not feel up to these tasks. Furthermore, this isn’t easy to regulate and it can be difficult to get the level right. We believe it’s important to build yourself up to completing these tasks.
It’s also vital that you know your limits when undertaking exercise; one must be aware of the dangers. For example, if your balance is still poor, we would not recommend trying new activities when alone.
Sunshine Gym equipment is an excellent resource for older people who are looking to benefit from exercise.
We offer various units specifically intended to work on this aspect of health, for example, the Waist Twister.
Finally, outdoor gym equipment is perfect for improving mental health. As well as providing motivation to leave the home, it presents the opportunity for vital social interaction.
At Sunshine Gym we aim to get people moving in a way which will help them.
That’s why we see the need to introduce members of our older generation to increased physical activity.
Only 21% of English care homes have facilities available which meet the guidelines set by the chief of medical officers for physical activity. One way of improving this statistic would be to make outdoor gyms accessible to all corners of society.