A recent study conducted in the US has discovered that even just one hour a week of exercise could make a huge difference in reducing mobility problems among older people. Over the course of the two-year study, a group of 70 to 90-year olds added at least an hour of additional exercise to their routine, and every single one showed improvements as a result.
The researchers pointed out that the more exercise that was added, the greater the changes and benefits were, with those who added at least 48 minutes per week seeing the greatest benefit. However, every little apparently does help, because even those with small amounts of activity were found to be 77 per cent less likely to develop disability than those who remained sedentary.
The benefits of exercise in people of all ages is well documented, with numerous reports of how it can stave off heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes and more. It can help your muscles stay strong, keep your weight stable and, in older people, can prevent falls. If exercise was a medicine, they’d be sold out every day. But despite all the evidence, getting people to be more active is still an uphill struggle.
Encouraging older people to exercise
Getting your parent or grandparent to exercise can be hard, particularly if it’s not already a part of their regular routine. Try some of our top tips to get them up and moving a little bit more often.
Make a commitment: Putting exercise into their daily routine can help them stay focussed and committed. Even something as simple as walking to the shop instead of driving, or parking a little further away can make all the difference to start with.
Sign up for a class: There may be something going on locally that you can both join in with. Simple activities such as seniors’ yoga or a fun dance class can be a great way to have fun and get fit at the same time. If they are already of limited mobility, try talking to day centres or local gyms to see what’s going on that they could join in with.
Introduce technology: Fitness bands and other wearable devices have made a massive impact on getting the world up and walking more often, and they’re not just for young people either. Simple fitness trackers don’t take much explaining, and often work even without a smartphone or tablet. Help them to understand these fun bits of tech, and they’ll start taking responsibility for their own movement in no time.
Start small and build up: If your loved one struggles to undertake any meaningful exercise, look for small wins and build up from there. If they are resistant to walking any distance, see if you can do ten minutes of chair exercise twice a week to start with. Walk for just five minutes, then next week try ten. Celebrate their accomplishments when they achieve a goal, and assist them in achieving more to build up their confidence.
Find something they enjoy: If going for a walk is boring, borrow a dog; a canine companion can make the experience much more pleasurable. If they hate the idea of yoga, get them to help you in the garden. And if being on their feet is painful, try swimming. Finding experiences and activities they enjoy is key to making and maintaining better exercise habits.
We firmly that it’s never too late to make a positive change. Exercise doesn’t have to be all about leotards and sweaty gyms; find ways to make it work for your loved one and they’ll soon be reaping the rewards.
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