Three quarters (77%) of Australians over 50 say they are committed to living a healthy and active lifestyle, yet almost half have decreased their level of physical activity in the past five years, according to new research.
Worryingly, the research found that almost a quarter (22%) of those who had decreased their level of physical activity admitted to being very inactive.
Health expert Dr Ross Walker said: “You’re never too old to exercise and most physical activity can be modified to accommodate injuries or weakness so there’s always a way to stay active, no matter what your age.”
“To maintain a healthy and active lifestyle in your 50s and beyond, the key is to focus on changing the nature of what you do as you get older, instead of just reducing the amount of what you currently do”.
Dr Walker suggested opting for lower impact forms of exercise: “These can be easier on the body while still providing all the benefits of more vigorous physical activity. For example; people who love to run or play tennis should try mixing up their exercise routine with different types of activities such as walking, cycling or swimming, to take the stress off their hip bones and joints.
“Mindfulness exercises such as yoga, tai chi or qigong are undeniably important as well as they cultivate health, reduce stress and can be done at any age or fitness level.”
Dr Walker warned that over 50s who don’t maintain a regular exercise program risk missing out on the important health benefits.
“Keeping yourself physically active is one of the best ways to increase your chances of aging well, as it helps to maintain and increase joint and muscle movement, strengthen bones and prevent falls and injury. Regular exercise is also vital in preventing many age related diseases including: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. And best of all it makes you feel good, through the release of endorphins, and is a great way to relax and unwind.”
“A regular exercise program ought to include a combination of cardio or aerobic training, but also regular strength and resistance training,” he advised.
Dr Walker urged older Australians to undertake at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, which raises the heart rate, and provided the following simple tips to help stay fit and healthy:
- Incorporate small incremental exercise into your daily routine to increase activity levels. For example; where possible take the stairs instead of the elevator, try walking instead of driving to the local shops and do stretches or sit on an exercise bike while watching TV.
- Mix up the type of activities you do to ensure you don’t get bored, and remember to combine resistance and strength training with low impact activities such as swimming, cycling & yoga.
- Find a hobby which involves physical activity. We’re much more inclined to do the things we find enjoyment in.
- Stay active and socialise at the same time by joining a gym, fitness group or cycling and walking meet-ups in your local area.
- If you haven’t done much exercise for a while, it’s important to gradually build up activity levels to prevent injury and allow yourself time to regain strength and flexibility.
- And remember to have a thorough check-up with your doctor before commencing any intensive exercise program.
The research was carried out by insurance company Apia.
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