The benefit of staying active as we age

Exercise and physical activity helps you stay energetic, healthy and independent as you get older.

Many adults aged 65 and over spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down. This makes them the most sedentary age group. Inactive older people pay a high price with increased rates of falls, heart disease and obesity compared with the general population. Increased risk of early death is the most serious consequence.

While it is tempting to take it easy when working life ends people are living longer so it is important to remain active. Otherwise all the things that have always been enjoyable and taken for granted may become that little bit harder.

Strong evidence

There is strong evidence that active people have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, dementia and some cancers. It is simple to stay pain-free, reduce the risk of mental illness and keep independent well into old age. Just keep moving!

What is physical activity?

There are lots of ways to get active and it’s not just about exercising in a gym. Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. It includes anything from walking and gardening to recreational sport. Current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. Ideally, older people should try to do something active for 10 minutes or more every day.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities include:

  • walking fast
  • riding a bike
  • pushing a lawn mower

Shopping, housework and cooking don’t count towards the weekly target because the effort doesn’t usually raise the heart rate. Daily chores are still beneficial though as they help break up sedentary time.

In addition to the 150 minutes aerobic target, medical experts also advise some activities that work the muscles. Heavy gardening or weight lifting are both good ways to build or maintain strength. Using outdoor fitness equipment at your local park is a great way to get some fresh air and have a workout. Find our own outdoor fitness range here:

Avoid sitting to stay healthy

As well as regular physical activity, reducing the amount of time spent sitting down is also important. Avoiding lengthy periods of TV viewing, computer use and driving are key to keeping healthy. Regularly sitting to read, talk or listen to music for a long time are also best kept to a minimum.

Most people want to keep in touch with their community and stay in good health as they get older. Being active is the best way of ensuring that happens.

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