Ageing and Exercise – Support from Sunshine Gym

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.

These conditions are as follows:

Slow metabolism

“Metabolism” refers to all of the chemical functions which go on inside your body to keep you alive and sustain normal organ function. This includes breathing, repairing cells and most commonly acknowledged, digesting food.

All of these processes require energy, these energy requirements are often referred to as the BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. Effectively having a slow metabolism means that you have a low BMR.

In addition to the above functions, 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.

Falls

The elderly are much more likely to fall than those of us who are below the age of 65.

While less dangerous in the young, a fall can be devastating in later life. The reason behind these frequent falls can be attributed to chronic or life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, vestibular disease or low blood pressure. However these are not the only contributing factors.

Falls in the elderly can merely be linked to a reduction in muscle mass. 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. One of the only tangible ways to improve muscle mass is regular exercise.

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. This could be due to the fact that a lack of motivation is a key symptom of depression.

Therefore, one of the ways in which we can attempt to combat this, is by tackling one of the leading causes of depression in the elderly; isolation & loneliness.

At Sunshine Gym we have specified social outdoor gym equipment packages which will go towards improving interaction.

Poor cognitive health

Dementia is one of the biggest health problems facing the older generation.

Dementia itself is not a disease, it is in fact a syndrome associated with a decline of brain function. Symptoms of dementia include: memory loss, mental agility, understanding, mood and movement.

In addition to this daily tasks become somewhat impossible. When it becomes difficult to keep track of day-to-day tasks, exercise can easily fall by the wayside. However, that doesn’t mean that it should.

Having help using outdoor gym equipment could improve your physical health, as well as aiding towards an improvement in mental health too.

How to Combat the Risks

The best way to combat these conditions is to in fact prevent them from developing in the first place. To do this, amongst others, you should increase your daily activity.

However, if you do 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 one of the key attributing factors to an increased risk of falls.Therefore an increased muscle mass should result in less falls.

In order to improve/ increase your muscle mass, you need to strengthen your muscles. This is easily done with a Sunshine Gym.

Introduce daily muscles strengthening exercises such as the those done using the Squat Push or Pull Down Challenger, and this will help to improve your muscle strength and muscle mass. Thus reducing your 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.

Before you can increase your daily activity, however, you may need to look at your metabolic rate. Having a fast metabolism may aid in your ability to actually perform exercise.

One of the elements thought to slow down a metabolism is remaining sedentary for long periods of time. We therefore suggest, that in order to improve your metabolic rate you should start to increase your movements; slowly throughout the day.

Improving mentally

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 well-being, 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:

Balance

We offer various units specifically intended to work on this aspect of health, for example, the Waist Twister.

Strength

The Arm and Pedal Bicycle and the Slalom Skier each offer excellent workouts for vital muscles. We recommend also using them to improve upon balance developed in other exercises.

Social

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.