The NHS tells us that; Older adults aged 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do:
At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking), and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
There is also a strong emphasis on not sitting for long periods of time as being inactive has more impact on our longevity than obesity, smoking or having high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
Some ideas on how to get moving!
1. Walk – It’s free and you experience the added benefit of getting outside in the fresh air and sunlight (preferably!) Meet up with friends, family or go alone, whatever you enjoy the most!
2. Join a local club – Find out if there are any sports clubs in your area that you could try. For example yoga, Pilates, walking, cycling, tennis, badminton, swimming etc often hold classes/times for older individuals. It is also a great way to meet new people. Age UK and the Royal Voluntary Service can provide you with useful information on local clubs.
3. Clean/garden – Rather than making a special effort to ‘exercise’ some of the healthiest longest living people in the world are just generally active each day with tasks such as cleaning, cooking, gardening, and walking to carry out errands rather than relying on a car.
4. Avoid sitting for longer than one hour at a time – Recent studies show that prolonged sitting can be worse for your health than smoking. Set an alarm or keep an eye on the time to ensure you get up and move around before sitting again.
5. Stretching and Mobility Work – With age tends to come loss of flexibility and mobility. This could be due to stopping work or as a result of an injury or illness. Whatever the cause I highly recommend older individuals incorporate some flexibility and mobility exercises daily or as often as possible. By seeking advice from a trusted health coach or physiotherapist you can obtain personalised advice on exercises specific to you. If 1-2-1 coaching isn’t an option perhaps try joining an appropriate gym class or if you have access to the internet you could follow along at home. Paul Chek has some fantastic videos of different easy to do stretches and mobilisations. This video link will help you to find out more. If you prefer a book to follow ‘How to Eat Move and Be Healthy’ is a great place to start, here is a link to Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Eat-Move-be-Healthy/dp/1583870067
Sleep is vital for good health. Between the hours of 10pm-2am our bodies are going through physical repair processes and between 2-6am our body is experiencing psychological repair. If you miss out on sleep at these times or suffer disrupted sleep you may start to experience a decline in health and energy. Ray Peat, PhD says “Good sleep requires fairly vigorous metabolism and a normal body temperature. In old age, the metabolic rate is decreased, and sleep becomes defective. Protein synthesis declines with ageing, as the metabolic rate slows. At least in the brain, protein synthesis occurs most rapidly in deep sleep. [Nakanishi, et al., 1997; Ramm and Smith, 1990]. I recommend avoiding any blue light from TV, computers and phones at least an hour before bedtime. Try to establish a bedtime routine having dinner, engaging in a relaxing hobby such as reading or listening to relaxing music, and going to bed at approximately the same time every night. Avoid alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime as this can disrupt sleep quality. Some people find a bed time snack such as fruit and cheese helpful as it is a good mix of protein, fat and carbohydrate and will help to avoid blood sugar crashes during the night which can wake you up or cause you to have difficulties falling asleep.
Social Interaction and enjoyment of life! Studies show time and time again that one of, if not the most important factor in living an enjoyable, fulfilled and long life is social interaction. I encourage older individuals to do more of what they enjoy, whether that’s taking up a new hobby, joining a local club or volunteering. Anything that helps you to become more involved in your local community and gives you a feeling of contentment will definitely help improve your health and well-being.
From the Archives of Internal medicine 2009 – “Older people who want to keep up muscle strength and motor skills by exercising are missing an important trick – social activity is just as important.
While common sense suggests that exercise would be enough to maintain muscle strength, speed and dexterity into old age, researchers have discovered that being active socially is just as important. Doing volunteer work, attending sports or social events, or even visiting friends and relatives all helped to maintain good physical health. According to a new study of 906 retired people, physical decline was around one-third more rapid among those who were socially inactive, even if they still exercised.”
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” – Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
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