With older people living longer than ever before it is so important that in our later years we don’t live in poor health. The good news is that the actions that we take now can work towards benefitting our health in the long term, and it is never too late to start.
We know that good nutrition is fundamental to promoting good health and that we need to cut down on saturated fat, salt and sugar and drink plenty of water each day but we also need to remain active. Sedentary behaviour and inactivity are risk factors for poor physical and mental health, reduced quality of life and social isolation.
‘Exercise of some kind or other is almost essential to the preservation of health in persons of all ages – but none more so than in the old,’ (Mclachlan,1863).
The more active we remain the more likely that we will maintain our strength and balance ensuring we are steady and strong reducing the risk of us falling. Furthermore if we are steady and strong as a result of our active lifestyle should we experience a fall we will be less likely to experience an injurious fall.
Remaining active can also help us with our daily activities like going to toilet independently, walking around without aids, walking up and down stairs with confidence and even washing our own hair as well as developing our social networks ensuring we don’t experience loneliness. Some activities that also stimulate the brain, like dancing, can also reduce the risk of the on-set of dementia.
We are never too old to partake in physical activities even if we are experiencing some health problems as long as we communicate our health problems effectively to exercise professionals so that special considerations can be made for us all but it is always advisable to discuss new physical activities with your GP before commencing. Your GP may even be able to recommend suitable activities in your local area.
Physical activities that you may want to consider include:
- Postural Stability Courses
- Walking Football
- Water aerobics
However a start for us all would be to increase the amount of time we stand up when we are engaged in sedentary activity like being sat at desk, driving a car or sitting watching TV, for example standing up during the ad breaks can help, or going for a walk around the office whilst at work. Research suggests that staying glued to your chair too long during the day increases the risk for health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and is linked with an increased risk of mortality. Therefore the more time we spend time sitting the worse our health outcomes will be in the years to come.
We all want to live longer but surely we all want to be happy and independent in our later years so let’s all think about how we can get moving more!