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Exercising as we grow older

Updated: Feb 24

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” – George Bernard Shaw.


Exercise not only benefits our physical wellbeing, but also has a significant impact on our mental wellbeing. This does not change as we age, and although we may still feel ‘young at heart’, when it comes to exercise, we need to be mindful of our changing abilities as we move into our later years.


Research has shown that exercising plays an important part in “successful aging” and prevention of chronic disease. We know that exercise is important for our continued health and also acknowledge that as our body changes as we grow older, therefore we need to be respectful of these changes and be sensitive to any warning signs of stiffness/tension or soreness as they may present.


What is “successful aging”?


Successful aging has number of definitions, however common elements include longevity, as well as being free of chronic disease, impaired physical and cognitive function and disability associated with an injury/fall or other incident.


Among older adults who are at higher risk of injury, exercise improves physical performance, with benefits extending well beyond the actual activity itself. In fact, research has shown that exercise – even moderate exercise – may prevent or even delay disability and see us live longer lives.




Prevention of chronic disease


Cardiovascular system


The most dramatic benefit of exercise is on the cardiovascular system - in particular, those older people with coronary heart disease. Exercise interventions have been seen to decrease symptoms, recurrent hospital visits, other associated diseases and even death related to coronary heart disease.


Exercise has a positive effect on our cholesterol, lowering the amount of ‘bad’ fat in our blood; exercise also lowers blood pressure and reduces obesity. In combination with a reduction in cholesterol, exercise decreases the risk of cardiac related disease and events such as a heart attack.


Respiratory system


Exercise improves physical status and the quality of life of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.


Diabetes


Exercise (and changes to diet) can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and may also improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes.


Osteoarthritis


If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis, an exercise program may help with improving joint mobility and increasing muscle strength.


Bone health and prevention of falls


Resistance training and high-impact activities help maintain bone mass in the older person -those who are at risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis will benefit significantly from this type of training. Additionally, exercise in the form of strength and balance training reduces the older person’s risk of falling.




Exercising safely


We can work with you (and alongside your GP if required) to create an exercise program to help you keep moving and help prevent or treat issues related to chronic illness. We combine strength, balance and flexibility exercises that are tailored specifically for you, whilst also being respectful of any injury or limitations.


We have a number of clients who are what we like to call ‘young at heart’, already benefiting from regular, supervised and supported exercise here at Aeon Health Physiotherapy and Rehab.




Source: Brukner & Khan Clinical Sports Medicine.

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