It has been discovered that many adults aged 65 and above spend an average of 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. This has led to a whole lot of them becoming inactive and unhealthy. However, if this continues they will soon find that they are losing interest or lacking energy in doing some of the things they enjoy doing e.g. cooking, shopping, cleaning, washing and visiting friends.
According to the National Institute for Ageing, exercise is good for people of any age and can ease symptoms of many chronic conditions. Also, contrary to popular belief, weakness and poor balance are actually linked to inactivity, rather than age. It is therefore advisable for the elderly to carry out mild to moderate aerobic activities which are capable of increasing their heart rate for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. These exercises include: swimming, brisk walking, jumping, running, cycling, dancing, skipping, playing double tennis, pushing a lawn mower. Other household activities like cooking, shopping, cleaning can help break your sedentary time though they are not enough to increase your heart rate.
Let’s see some of the benefits of exercises on our body.
- Long lifespan: it has been discovered that a life of great activity among the elderly increases lifespan however, only one in four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercise regularly. According to the World Health Organization, leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of 10 leading causes of death and disability. To increase lifespan by 3-4 years, exercise is a necessity.
- Reduces risk of dementia: Neurological degeneration caused by ageing process is common in the elderly. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease which analysed more than 1,600 older adults over five years, it found that those who did not exercise were more likely to develop dementia than those who did. A life of inactivity can result in dementia in later years.
- Cardiovascular diseases: Exercises helps to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure. During activity, heart rate increases which promotes blood circulation around the body. If an elderly has hypertension, exercise will help in the process of lowering their blood pressure.
- Bone health: Exercises slow down loss of bone mass, increases integrity and strength of bone thereby preventing bone conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis which is found in post-menopausal women. Strength and resistance training exercises where body weight is transferred to the feet helps to build bone resilience and strength thereby reducing fractures.
- Maintaining body weight: Body metabolism tends to decrease with age resulting in weight gain. Exercise helps to increase body metabolic activities by burning calories and preventing obesity.
- Adequate rest and sleep: Exercise gives a feeling of wellness by relaxing tensed muscles and promoting good rest and sleep. It helps to make you fall asleep quickly and makes you wake energised and refreshed
- Prevents cancer and infection: As age progresses, there is decrease in immune function which can increase the risk of cancer. Exercises help to improve immune function by fighting infections and other diseases.