There is very clear evidence that staying active in older life has enormous benefits for overall health. There are strong links between physical activity and mental and emotional wellbeing.
According to the World Health Organisation, by being more physically active, older people can expect:
- Lower rates of mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer.
- Better bone health.
- Higher levels of functional health, a lower risk of falling, and better cognitive function.
WHO also reports that physically active older people have ‘reduced risk of moderate and severe functional limitations and role limitations.’ In other words, they are able to cope better and do more.
An Individual Approach
Naturally, the level and nature of physical activity that older people are able to undertake will be different from when they were younger. It’s important for care providers to work closely with health professionals such as physiotherapists to design appropriate activity programmes based on individual needs and levels of mobility.
Dancing, gardening, walking, light aerobics, stretching and yoga can all be highly beneficial. As well as exercising hearts and lungs these activities help to keep joints mobile.
Normally, it’s best to encourage people to do as much as they feel able to take on. For residents who have become accustomed to low levels of physical activity – a programme that gradually increases activity levels can be transformational for their general wellbeing.
Where people receive care at home, awareness of their activity levels and, where appropriate, help and encouragement to join in with community based activity and exercise programmes should be a feature of good care planning.
Physical exercise also promotes independence and social enhancement these are very important for older people in tackling any feelings of loneliness and isolation. An active body and mind alongside a healthy and positive emotional outlook makes a huge difference to your life and those golden years, which is hopefully what everyone should look forward to.