Be more active – 25% of people aged over 65 do no exercise

by | Health & Wellbeing

We need to be more active: 25% of people aged over 65 do no exercise and that’s why they are more susceptible to falls.

The need to be more active was on the news this morning, and a message we hear regularly. So why don’t people do exercise why don’t people seek to be more active? One way all of us used to use our strength was in carrying shopping, they say, but I think there’s still a difference between walking from the shops or getting off the bus with 2 heavy bags and pushing our trolley to the car. Even worse is shopping online.

Many adults aged 65and overspend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. They’re paying a high price for their inactivity, with higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease, and early death compared with the general population. As you get older, it becomes even more important to remain active if you want to stay healthy and maintain your independence.
“As people get older and their bodies decline in function, physical activity helps to slow that decline,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

And it’s not just for the over 65s

Dr Justin Varney, Head of Adult Health at Public Health England, said: Your bones start to weaken from your late 20s and muscle mass shrinks from 40, plus musculoskeletal conditions are the biggest cause of sickness absence from work.

So, it’s not only older people who need to act. Include bone and muscle strengthening and balance-boosting activities into your daily routine and you’ll benefit as you age, increasing the chances of being free from chronic musculoskeletal illness in your 40s, 50s and beyond.”

What is physical activity?

The NHS website says
Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. It can include anything from walking and gardening to recreational sport.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. (e.g., walking, water aerobics, canoeing, or pushing a lawn mower). Vigorous activity includes jogging or running, aerobics, fast swimming). At this level you can’t speak without pausing for breath. It’s good to know that 75 minutes of vigorous activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate activity.

To be more active, ideally, you should try to do something every day, preferably in bouts of 10 minutes of activity or more. One way of achieving 150 minutes of activity is to do 30 minutes on at least five days a week.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities include:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • playing doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower

We need to do strength bearing activity at all ages, especially as we age and lose muscle.

Nearly a quarter of over-65s don’t do any strength exercises, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) says. NHS guidelines suggest people do two strengthening sessions a week, such as exercising with weights, or lifting and carrying heavy loads such as groceries.

That’s why I do a weights training exercise 3 times a week. I get satisfaction from doing e.g., ‘fly’s’ with 7kg weights in each hand and deadlifts with 24kg (it used to be much higher but as I’ve had back problems, I now just lift 2 x 12kg kettlebells). This type of activity is good for me as it certainly raises my heart weight and I certainly glow (i.e., sweat!)

But if you don’t want to go to the gym you could be more active by

  • work with resistance bands
  • do exercises that uses your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • carry shopping
  • yoga
  • Standing up out of a chair 10 times in succession

Source: NHS Choices

Be more active – Raising our heart rate

My husband and work to be more active. I walk each day it’s a time for me to step away from my desk and we chat. After watching the How to stay young TV show it made me question whether I’m walking fast enough. Steps are ok but they need to be with a raised heart rate to do us good. This week I’ve done a 30 minute very brisk paced walk each day, and yesterday adding in a couple of shorter, 15-minute brisk walks too. I think this is something I want to continue with.
There’s a great website which goes into more detail on moderate and vigorous activity which all helps to be more active. It confirms my strolls with my husband may add steps but doesn’t help my fitness. So maybe fitness monitors aren’t helping, and lulling us into thinking we are more active than we are?
NHS Live Well – I like this site as there is links to find out more on a range of activity on how to be more active like dancing and swimming

Do my dance classes count?

I was feeling virtuous about my activity level and adding on my 2 hours at dance classes each week. But this week I’ve paid more attention. Yes, we do a couple of dances as our warm-up but there’s a lot of standing as we watch and learn new steps and routines. So, I’m not going to include this as part of the minimum of 150 minutes a week, but it is an added extra.

Too much sitting

I spend hours sitting at my desk, and then several hours reading a book or watching TV or at the cinema. I’m now marching on the spot for 10 minutes every hour when watching TV, setting off a timer for 45 minutes to get me walking down and upstairs and seriously considering getting a standing desk.

Tai Chi

I know in China people do Tai Chi in the parks, and you see photos of older people doing this and I’m wondering if I should start again. More details here

Getting a dog

We have a lot of holidays now, doing long-haul adventure travel while we are fit. It’s not just 2 weeks at a beach, when we went to Australia, we were active each day and rarely had 2 nights at the same hotel. But I’m thinking of doing less long-haul holidays and to explore Europe, and probably shorter holidays. So, this could allow me to get a dog and that will encourage me to walk. If I do Ill, choose a rescue dog not a new puppy.

Aerobics at home

I used to put on my Jane Fonda workout LP and there are many exercises DVDs on sale. You can also watch videos online e.g. the NHS fitness studio exercise videos This is a great way to be more active.
This site also provides details on exercising from home.

And when I’m very old – how to Be more active

At some point walking may be difficult and I may be living in sheltered housing It can then be hard to be more active. I hope there will be activity in the home. A professional to come in and do e.g., some chair aerobics. I’m very interested in this type of activity, and I’m very keen to find out more on what is provided. I’m interested in research; this isn’t PhD level research but could be a local project. Something for me to consider. I also wonder if a Wii-fit would be something that could be used? Do people still use these?

This could help – Exercises for older people

and I’d love to know your thoughts on this, feel free to comment below. This is another of my posts on thoughts of ageing since turning 60.

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Chief Inspiration Officer, The 50 Plus Coach.