We all know staying active has physical benefits, but it turns out it is also great for your brain. Exercise is proven to boost energy levels, help you sleep, and the endorphins improve your mood. That’s why it’s extra important to get moving as you age.
There are four main types of activity that you should try to incorporate into your routine to stay healthy. It’s recommended that Australians over 65 do an average of 30 minutes of exercise per day.
If you haven’t done it before, it can seem pretty overwhelming to work in 30 minutes of physical activity a day – but it is extremely beneficial. Here are some practical ideas of exercises that you could try to get the ball rolling and keep you moving as you age.
MODERATE EXERCISES – To keep those organs healthy!
Taking a stroll is a great way of building fitness because you can do it just about anywhere. Whether you fly solo or catch up with friends or family for a walk it is a great way of getting in your 30 minutes wherever you are. It’s a very easy starting point for getting moving as you age.
2. Dancing Queen
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Dancing is a fun way of getting your heart rate up and your body moving as you age.
Hop in the pool! Swimming is an excellent way of building your endurance, lung capacity and strength. Getting in the pool also keeps your heart rate up, which will help you maintain a healthy weight and tone your muscles.
4. Have a hit of Golf
Not only is golf a good game physically it also doubles as a great task for brain stimulation. Another benefit of golf is that it is a gentle sport and you can take it at your own pace.
5. Water Aerobics
This is a great way of combining exercise with social interaction – best of both worlds. Check out the classes at your local swimming pool and give it a go. The best thing about aquatic exercises is that they are gentle on your joints.
6. Mopping and Vacuuming
Ever feel exhausted after cleaning? For good reason, it’s actually exercise. You underestimate the lifting, walking and stretching that goes into those everyday tasks.
7. Feel Ace playing Tennis
If you’re able, go for a leisurely hit of tennis with some friends.
8. Hop in the Garden
While enjoying yourself in the garden, you are actually also working all the major muscle groups. Gardening combines stretching with strength training and also keeps your brain working. Some people even find gardening quite therapeutic.
BALANCE EXERCISES – To help prevent falls and improve your balance
1. Single Limb Stance
Hold onto a chair and balance on one leg. Try balancing for a few seconds on each leg, work up the amount of time you are balancing if you can.
2. Tightrope Walk
Place some tape in a line on the ground (if you have it If not simply imagine a line is drawn on your ground). While holding your arms out wide to the sides walk along your tape/ invisible line. Try to not step off to the side of the line.
3. Flamingo Stand
Use your chair or a wall to support you with this one. Stand on one leg and lift the opposite knee up and hold it. Start for just a couple of seconds and build it up if you can. Switch legs to work on both sides.
4. Side Step
Stand with your feet together and keep your knees slightly bent. Place one hand against the wall if you need it for balance. Begin to slowly step to the side with one foot and then bring the other foot to join. Try doing 15 steps to each side.
5. Heel Raises
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. While holding onto your chair, lift your heels from the ground. Most of your weight should be on your toes when you do this exercise. This will build calf strength and control your ankle position.
FLEXIBILITY EXERCISES – To reduce joint stiffness and keep help your body move easily
1. Neck Side Stretch
A great morning stretch! Start by sitting in a chair, gently lean your head to one side and then the other alternating between the two. When you feel warm, gently pull on your head to one side and hold for 20 seconds or so and then switch to the other side.
2. Seated Hip Stretch
Start by sitting on a sturdy chair and cross your right leg atop your left knee. Relax your hip and hold for 20 seconds or so.
3. Hamstring and Low Back Stretch
Lie face-up on the floor and bend your right leg slowly towards your chest. Keep your shoulders flat to the floor and wrap your arms around the bent knee, pulling it towards you. Hold this for 30 seconds, and switch to your other leg.
4. Ankle Circles
Sit comfortably on a chair and extend one of your feet in front of you while keeping the other flat on the floor. Rotate the raised ankle, start with 10 times clockwise and 10 anti-clockwise. Switch to the other leg. You can build this up if it feels good.
STRENGTH EXERCISES – To strengthen muscles and maintain bone strength
1. Lifting small weights while watching TV
2. Climb the stairs instead of taking the lift
3. Heavier garden work e.g. Digging
4. Lifting and carrying the grandkids, or the groceries
These are simple everyday things that you might not realise you are already doing. But they are great ways to get moving as you age.
Obviously with any new exercise it’s important to take steps to ensure you are doing it safely.
1. Speak to your Doctor
It’s always good to consult a medical professional before starting a new exercise, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Explain what you’re thinking and check if there are any exercises you should avoid.
2. Listen to your Body
Exercise is meant to be beneficial, not painful. If you are feeling dizzy, develop chest pain or experience pain, stop immediately. You’re meant to be bettering your body and how you feel, not making things worse.
3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If you haven’t been active in a while it’s a good idea to build up your exercise program slowly over time. This will improve both your physical endurance and muscle strength, while also building your mental stamina and confidence.
Here are some helpful resources of exercises you could try:
We hope this has been a helpful article with some tips about how to get moving as you age. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you’d like to learn more about how to live well as you age, we have another blog about socialising as you age: https://letsgetcare.com.au/10-tips-for-socialising-as-an-older-australian/