Time to move – daily activities to maintain cognitive and physical wellbeing

by | Jul 12, 2021 | Pearl Home Care | 0 comments

Keeping active as we age helps maintain physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Finding ways to move daily can protect against cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers. Activity and exercise also help to maintain healthy body weight, muscle tone and bone density and is associated with improved mental health and the reduction of .

Despite the benefits of physical activity during ageing, research indicates that over two-thirds of Australians over 65 years are not reaching appropriate levels of activity to maintain their health and wellbeing.

The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend people over 65 years should do at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all days. This may be done over 2 or 3 different sessions, such as a few 10-minute walks throughout the day, or a 15-minute strength and stretch session joined by a 15-minute walk later in the day.

The guidelines also emphasise the importance of undertaking strength and conditioning exercises at least 2 to 3 times per week. Such exercises can include the monitored use of gym equipment, Yoga or Pilates classes, or exercise classes that use light hand-weights or resistance bands.

Balance exercises are also recommended for inclusion, as these are important in the prevention of falls. Balance exercises can be done around the home, like standing on one leg while waiting for the kettle to boil or when cleaning your teeth. Be sure to keep a hand close to a nearby chair or bench to feel confident with the challenge.

Finally, the guidelines mention the importance of stretching to keep the body supple and responsive. Stretching can also improve blood flow and keep muscles warm. This is important in preventing injury to muscles and connective tissue when more demanding exercises are performed.

Finding the right blend of activities throughout the week can ensure you reach these daily and weekly targets, while keeping physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.

Below are 5 different ways you can reach your weekly physical activity goals. They are proven to help maintain physical and mental fitness as we age, and you can have fun while doing it!

1. Join a local walking group

Joining a local walking group can help you explore nearby walking paths and your neighbourhood with confidence. Through support and shared motivation, a walking group helps keep you on track to get the exercise you need, while enjoying the company of others. Many say the added benefit of walking with others and the social element means it doesn’t feel like exercise at all! It’s a positive way to meet new neighbours or stay connected with a group of friends.

Adding the use of a pedometer to the walking routine will keep note of distances, steps and other health metrics, which your health practitioner can monitor.

The Heart Foundation offer free walking plans and an app to download to your smartphone to make starting a walking program even more achievable.

2. Use a chair to stretch and strengthen

Chair yoga is a real thing, and it can have just as many benefits as a regular yoga practice. It allows you to maintain the enjoyment and benefit of traditional yoga regardless of age or physical abilities, with extra support and safety.

Chair yoga – moving, stretching and strengthening from a seated position – can reduce pain and the interference of pain during the activity. It can also assist with the ongoing reduction in pain and fatigue and help build muscle strength over time.

It is recommended to use a sturdy chair and to sit upright for a supportive posture to promote spinal health. From there, it is possible to move in various ways from this position, including the use of breathing exercises, arm movements, forward stretching, back arches and twists. The chair can also be great as support for standing postures, especially for balancing and strengthening legs.

Yoga Australia can help you find a registered chair yoga teacher in your area.

3. Find a local Exercise Right class

More local gyms and community centres are offering group classes for older participants with a tailored approach. Exercise Right is a program run by exercise physiologists and sports scientists Australia-wide who are best qualified to help people with complex issues, such as chronic conditions, injury or illness. Exercise Right classes are also partially subsidised through federal government support.

If getting to classes is difficult, Exercise Right has online programs to do safely in the comfort of your own home. These activities range between 5 and 10 minutes each and are designed to help with balance, strength, mobility and specialised conditions like osteoporosis. Discuss with your healthcare practitioner before attempting at-home sessions or contact Exercise Right to discuss your situation. Your Pearl Home Care support worker can also assist you to complete these online courses safely while they visit.

4. Hit the dance floor!

Who said exercise couldn’t be fun? Research demonstrates the benefits of social dancing on physical, cognitive and mental health. Most dance sessions will increase heart rate, improve muscular strength and endurance, and help with blood circulation.

Couple this with the mental aptitude of focusing on steps, rhythm, coordination and memory, and dancing once or twice a week could become one of the most beneficial physical activities to enjoy throughout ageing. It also provides positive social engagement and can be a nostalgic link to the past.

There are a variety of classes on offer from classical and ballroom through to Latin, Contemporary and Jazz. Your local council or community centre may be able to assist you with available classes.

5. Get personal exercise support

Working with an exercise specialist can be beneficial to begin a new physical activity program safely and to help with motivation to maintain it. A specialised physical trainer, or an allied health professional (like an exercise physiologist) can create programs to suit schedules, budgets and accessibility.

Exercise physiologists are also qualified to design clinical programs, which are important when managing injury, rehabilitation, chronic conditions (such as osteoarthritis) or if you haven’t participated in regular physical exercise for a while. They can design a safe and effective program and help you stay focused on goals.

Exercise and activity changes throughout our life and what was enjoyed in younger years may not be the best in later years. The key to remember is it is never too late to start, especially given the importance of physical movement and mobility for health and wellbeing.

Contact the Pearl Home Care team to discuss your needs and motivations. They will assist you to organise the right support, including assessments and details of available funding.


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