If someone invented an exercise pill, it would be the medical breakthrough of the century. Regular exercise mitigates against coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and high cholesterol.
It’s also good for psychological wellbeing and can help prevent cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news is all you need to do to get these benefits is get up and move.
Yet, according to the 2007-8 Australian National Health Survey, more than 70% of people over 65 do no or almost no exercise. Among those 75+ it climbs to more than 80%.
As I was preaching about the virtues of exercise to a 74-year-old family member, she agreed it was a good idea, but couldn’t think of something she really wanted to do.
The recommended dose is 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise at least five days per week. Adding more vigorous activity will improve fitness and burn more kilojoules.
- For stronger bones, important for seniors, make sure at least some of your exercise is weight-bearing, like walking, jogging or ball sports.
- Strength or resistance training will help prevent sarcopenia – loss of muscle mass –which could otherwise lead to decreased independence and increased risk of falls in older age.
- Learning new physical skills and complicated moves (think dancing) exercises your brain as well. Yoga can help with balance – again, important when you’re older – and suppleness.
Nonna says she enjoys yoga, and does it once a week. But what about something a bit more cardio, I suggest. Walking was too dull. Swimming and anything involving rackets, sticks, clubs etc. were out because of a sore shoulder. She was thinking of lawn bowls, but that’s not exactly aerobic.
Indoor climbing? Shoulder. Bushwalking? Dull on your own, too difficult to round people up, what if it rains?
Croquet? Giggles. No, seriously. More giggles. Mature age ballet is the latest thing – what about ballet? Great hoots of laughter.
And so on.
So now I need your ideas. What are some fun, interesting and not too arduous exercises for seniors?