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8 tips older people can follow to start exercising

29th June 2018

It is important for older people to stay fit and healthy and experts are constantly stressing the importance of regular exercise.

Despite the importance of exercise, especially for older people using stair lifts, an article on BT.com reveals that only one in four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercise regularly.

Older people shouldn’t just jump straight into exercise and instead should try to build it up gradually. For older people that would like to exercise more and want to know what types of exercises to do, read these top tips from expert health and exercise professionals.

What are the top tips for exercising as an older person?

1. There is so much wrong information out there

It is important that older people looking to get fitter speak to a fitness expert as they can advise people on the different types of exercise you can do as there is a lot of information out there that isn’t correct.

DW Fitness First Personal Trainer Eddy Diget, who is 73-years-old, says “Ninety percent of the time, older people believe there is no reason to exercise. They listen to friends - or even professionals – who advise they can’t do this or that and often they end up doing nothing. Just today I personal trained a lady who had been medically advised she had a torn ligament and frozen shoulder, yet in thirty minutes I had her arm moving and her knee out of the brace – with no pain. She began to cry with happiness.”

“I train people with who are partially sighted, have spinal bifida and cancer. While exercise does not cure illness - in many cases – it can effectively help to manage symptoms.”

2. Start with small steps

Older people shouldn’t jump straight into running or lifting heavy weights if they have not been doing exercise and instead need to start making small steps and gradually build up their exercise.

Evolve Fitness, who help find people a fitness trainer in London, says, “The big priorities are to take it slow and focus on working to maintain the pain-free range of motion you already have. In terms of upper body exercises, there is a whole range of movements that can be done from a chair. Simple movements like raising the arms over your head, bicep curl movements, and lateral raises (raising the arms straight to the side) for 10-15 repetitions. When this is easy you can add light dumbbells/bottles of water as added resistance. A stretch-band gives you more variety, and pulling/rowing movements will be very beneficial too. As always it's best to ask an expert, so I'd advice a fitness class geared towards seniors or people with mobility problems if possible.

“Access to a gym opens up a lot more options. Single arm cable rows would be a great exercise for example. Again, no need to go crazy-heavy. Just start with a manageable weight for two sets of about 12-15 reps.

“Little and often goes a long way. So a 20-minute session three times a week beats an hour session once a week.

“In terms of cardio, low impact options like water aerobics are great. Depending on the level of mobility, something like Tai Chi could be a good choice too as it's been shown to help increase proprioception ("body awareness" and balance) and prevent falls in older populations.”

3. Try these three chair exercises

Josh Douglas-Walton from Health and Fitness Education (HFE) recommends people with mobility problems try chair exercises.

“When it comes to recommending exercises for those with mobility problems, chair exercises are often a very popular route. You don't need a gym membership or a personal trainer to guide you through, nor do you need any specialised and pricey bits of equipment.”

The HFE suggest the following three exercises:

• Sit to stand - simply sit on the edge of a chair, lean forward and then stand up without using your arms. Stand up straight and look straight ahead before slowly sitting back down.

• Arm raises - begin with arms down by the side and then raise them slowly so they're out to the side, then raise them above your head while keeping the arms as straight as possible.

• Body twist - Sitting upright with feet on the floor, cross your arms across your body, reaching for the shoulders. Without moving hips, so just the upper body, slowly turn to one side. Return to centre and perform on the other side.

4. Go walking

Dan Redwood, who is a co-manager at Matt Roberts’ Personal Training City club, recommends walking more as it has lots of health benefits and is very accessible.

“Generally with mobility if we don’t use it we lose it, a joint needs to be stable as well as flexible to be able to stand up to the demands of everyday life. One of the best forms of exercise for the elderly is walking. It is very accessible for most and it is something they can do with the assistance of a walking stick or frame, it keeps the joints mobile and the muscles active.”

5. Consider trying the cuppa routine from Move it or Lose it

Move It or Lose It specialises in exercise for older people and has a network of classes all across the UK as well as a range of award-winning DVDs.

Julie Robinson, Fitness Expert at Move it or Lose it says, “The exercises can be adapted to suit those with mobility problems as they can be done seated or standing. This has been shown to improve strength, balance flexibility and mobility to aid everyday life.”

Why not try our cuppa routine, four simple exercises that can be done in the time it takes to boil a kettle.

6. Take advantage of time

Stuntman, Martial Artist, Natural Body Builder Eddy Diget from DW Fitness, who were established in 2009 when Dave Whelan bought 52 fitness clubs, believes that as people get older they have more spare time on their hands than they have had before and that it is easier to get physically fit.

“Picture this, you leave education at 21 to go to work, you meet someone, have a family, and with that -in most instances - you feel tired and time poor. Fast forward to your 50s or 60s and you finally have the time to prioritise staying healthy to enjoy all your later years.

“I believe that the older you are, the more physically active you should be than ever before – to maintain the rest of your life! You now have 40 or so years to spend however you wish.”

7. Try swimming to help with mobility

Swimming has lots of health benefits and Dan Redwood, who works at Matt Roberts Personal Training, says it is great for people that wish to improve their mobility and strength.

“One other form of exercise that is great for mobility and strength is swimming, again dependant on restrictions but if capable there are lots of benefits. One benefit is that water reduces the load of gravity on our joints and enables us to strengthen our muscles against the resistance of water instead, I’d suggest finding a pool that is shallow enough to walk in so the elderly person can walk as well as swim against the resistance.”

8. Reduce your time sitting down

It can be easy for older people, especially those with mobility problems and struggle to get around the home, to sit in front of the TV for most of the day, but Move it or Lose it say it is vital for older people to reduce their time sitting down.

“It’s as important as being active whether you’re sitting at a desk at work or watching the TV. Best to get up and move every hour, so try to get into the habit or set a reminder.”

The benefits of exercise

It reduces risk of injury and illness

Evolve Fitness, says, “Exercise has been shown time and again to reduce risk of injury and illness. Resistance exercise (lifting weight) will increase bone density helping to ward off osteoporosis or breaks. It will also assist in maintaining a healthy weight, which in turn prevents cardiac disease amongst other issues.”

The HFE’s says, “Exercising is still incredibly important for older people as it can often stave off the loss function and increase in frail health normally associated with getting older. In fact these changes to the body are often made worse or accelerated because people tend to stop exercising, or exercising as much when they get older. For those who perverse or even increase their activity levels there a range of benefits.”

These benefits include:

- Better control over joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis

- Reduced risk of death from chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension

- Bone density is maintained which reduces the risk osteoporosis and bone fractures

- Improved patterns and sleep and cognitive function

It gives people a better quality of life

Exercising will also get older people out and about and can give them a better quality of life and more freedom.

Evolve Fitness, says, “Perhaps most importantly of all, exercise helps you to keep doing the normal things you might want do in your life. It will give you a greater degree of freedom and quality of life.”

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.