Resolutions to “Be more active” in the New Year if you are over 65yo

 Exercise choices for younger people tend to be straightforward.  However if you are over 65yo exercise may seem more of a challenge.  If you are over 65yo and want to increase your activity levels in the New Year but are not sure which one will suit you then hopefully this will help...

The findings of “The Start Active, Stay Active” report from the Chief Medical Officers (2011) recommend that people aged 65 years and over need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and strengthening exercises.  Those who are generally fit, and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do either: 1) at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles    (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)  OR 2)  75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

This sounds like a lot but actually is easy to do once you know how….  Aerobic activities are exercises that raise your heart rate.  They are very important for cardiovascular health.  One way to tell if you're exercising at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song. Alternatively, exercising at a vigorous level will make you breathe hard and fast so that you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.  Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include: walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, cycling, playing doubles tennis, or pushing a lawn mower. Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include: jogging, aerobics class, swimming, fast cycling, singles tennis, or hiking uphill.  Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework don't count(!) because the effort isn’t enough to raise your heart rate, but they are important to break up periods of sitting.  Choosing the right one for you is important to prevent injury.  Walking is generally suitable for all.  However, if weight bearing is painful try wading in the swimming pool or aqua aerobics.  Back stroke or front crawl swimming are good for arthritic hips knees or backs as it gaps arthritic joints and aids mobility.  You may be able to get a referral to a hydrotherapy pool from your GP for some targeted swimming rehabilitation. 

Strengthening exercises increase muscle mass which is very important for maintaining bone mass, regulating blood sugar, and maintaining a healthy weight.  Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. To gain health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them slowly, and repeatedly until the worked muscle is exhausted. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include: exercises that use your body weight for resistance such as yoga or pilates, and lifting weights.  You don’t need specialist equipment – even an old 2L plastic bottle of milk filled with water can act as a weight.

This advice is less applicable to those who are less fit or have exercise limiting health conditions, such as people with weak legs, poor balance.  Instead these people should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week. Examples include yoga, tai chi and dancing.   Most importantly they should keep mobile and try to limit long periods of sitting. 


Posted on January 10, 2016 .