Not everyone loves to exercise, and certainly much less emphasis has been placed on its importance in the past compared with more recent years. These days we know well that good health and well-being depends largely on eating well, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. The focus is on preventing disease, rather than treating it. So, for many older people, being told they must exercise is rather like being told they must take a spoonful of cod-liver oil every day. Distasteful at the very least.
However, exercise we must, if we want to live longer and more fulfilling lives. But no-one is expecting us, at the grand old age of 85, to suddenly take up jogging, or join a team sport, or start a spin class, when the most we have ever done is walk briskly, mow the lawn, or clean the house from top to bottom once a week! Sure, if you have spent your life doing those things anyway, the chances are, you will have been protecting your health anyway – but with age comes increasing frailty and these things may be less achievable than they used to be. So what can you do instead?
There are four groups of exercise that older people can focus on. They are pretty easy to get started, but as your strength builds, you may find yourself building on them, doing more, or looking to challenge yourself further. Before you get started, see your GP who can give you the all-clear, especially if you haven’t done any exercise for a while.
If you love your garden, or you like a clean and tidy house, just keeping on top of your daily chores will often be enough to keep you active. Don’t overdo it though – if a job requires you to get into an awkward position that you might struggle to get out of again, it might be time to call in some extra help. Regular walks – even if they are short trips – are a great way to increase your heart rate a little and get some fresh air in your lungs. Try a water aerobics class – it can be a real workout for you, but really worthwhile if balance and flexibility are an issue – you can’t fall over in the water!