Exercise Right Week kicks off from 20th May. The theme this year is Active Ageing. While we all recognise the need to keep active and stay fit, it’s easier said than done as the years roll on and age takes its toll on our joints and muscles.
Here are the facts:
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of 10 leading causes of death and disability. Even gentle, regular exercise such as walking or swimming can increase your lifespan by 3-5 years.
- Joints like movement, rather than immobility, to function at their optimal best. In fact, exercise can ease symptoms of many chronic conditions.
- Contrary to popular belief, weakness and poor balance are actually linked to inactivity, rather than age. Some of the positive effects of exercising include increased fitness, strength, confidence, coordination and a positive mood.
The reality is that Australians aren’t moving enough, with less than half us meeting the recommended exercise guidelines. The good news? A small change can make a big difference! All it takes is 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week to improve our health.
But how do you keep moving when a simple trip to the shops makes you wince in pain? Says our Principal Physiotherapist, Jerome Finkelstein, “The most common hurdle that many people who are +60 years face is osteoarthritis. If you are afflicted by osteoarthritis, physiotherapy is the answer. It has a huge role to play in OA management, as does massage and podiatry. Arthritic joints like small amounts of gentle movement done regularly, rather than too much all at once.”
Jerome’s Top Tips:
- Break up daily tasks into small chunks: If you’re out (e.g. shopping), sit and rest frequently to avoid flaring the joints and regretting it for the rest of the day. The most common joints affected are the knees, followed by lower back, neck and hands.
- Choose activities you find interesting: You are more likely to stick to an exercise routine if it’s something you love doing.
- Build exercise into your daily routine: Walk to the shops or bus, spend more time in the garden or offer to walk a neighbour’s dog. Incidental activity is the best kind.
- Start slowly and aim for small improvements: Be guided by your GP or physiotherapist about how long and how frequently to exercise. Keep track of your progress in a training diary for added motivation.
- Make exercise a social event: Invite your mates for a walk or sign up for a class so you can meet new people while getting fit.
- Include cardio and strength: Great exercises for active ageing (whether or not you have arthritis) are gardening, walking, swimming, cycling, hiking and sailing. All involve large muscle groups and incorporate moderate amounts of cardio and strength.
- Build up muscle and bones: Strength training and lifting weights build muscle tissue. Weight-bearing exercise can reduce your risk of bone loss and osteoporosis as you age.
- Reduce your risk of falls: Include some balance and coordination exercises in your weekly exercise routine. Good options include tai chi, yoga, Pilates and meditation which improve your overall mind-body health.
Disclaimer: If you have concerns about anything, please get medical clearance from your GP beforehand. Our team of physiotherapists are here to help you move forward.