Did you know that 21st August is Senior Citizens Day? Probably not, it is, after all, one of the lesser known national days you’re likely to hear of. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not the sort of thing we ought to be getting behind and supporting.
Here at Active Physiotherapy, we thought it would be a good idea to take this opportunity to look at the benefits of exercising for those who have celebrated their 65th Birthdays (and more), as well as how to get started, and what things you might want (or need) to consider.
Benefits of exercise
There is no doubt everyone’s aware of the health benefits of regular exercise, regardless of age. Equally, starting as you mean to go on, can ensure that you remain healthy (both physically and mentally) as you approach older age.
However, if you’ve not already spent years developing a suitable regime, you are never too old to start, so don’t be put off! Various studies over the years have shown that older individuals who spend any regular time exercising are less likely to develop serious long-term illnesses or health conditions, than their more sedentary counterparts.
This means that exercise can reduce your risk of developing:
- High blood pressure (and in turn reduces the risks of heart disease and/or stroke)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some types of cancer
Another benefit that many don’t consider, is that regular exercise will increase your muscle tone and general strength, ensuring you are less likely to have an accident or suffer an injury in the future.
If you are suffering from any pre-existing health condition, or are taking regular medication, it is always a good idea to speak to your GP or consultants before starting on a new exercise regime. They will be best placed to provide you with expert advice based on your own individual circumstances.
Other than that, one of the best things you can do is start slowly, no matter what it is you are planning to do. For example, if you want to start walking, start with 10 minutes a day – don’t try to complete 10 miles the first time you go out.
Make sure you have the right equipment or clothing etc before you get started, to ensure you have all the necessary support throughout your exercise session.
One of the most important things you can remember is that not exercising is likely to carry more risks with it than starting to exercise. However, if you start to feel dizzy or light-headed whilst you are doing anything strenuous, then stop immediately and take a break. If the symptoms don’t go away once you have stopped exercise, seek medical advice.
If you feel tightness in your chest or have difficulty breathing, stop immediately and call 999 for further medical advice.
What exercises should you do?
What exercise you do will depend largely on what you enjoy, your physical ability (at least to start) and what it is you want to achieve.
You might want to consider a mixture of aerobic (strengthening your heart and lungs) or instead something that will build up your muscles.
For example, cycling to the shops, going for a brisk walk around the park or dancing are all great aerobic exercises which can be done with friends or as part of a social activity. Equally, Pilates, yoga or even Tai Chi (which is not a type of herbal tea) are great for strengthening your muscles and core. Many gyms and even local halls and churches run classes.