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Staying Active As We Age

Julie RobinsonJulie Robinson from Move It or Lose It shares her top tips on how to stay active as we get older.

Everyone has their reasons for wanting to stay active as we get older. Whether it’s to stay healthy, reduce risk of illness or shed unwanted pounds, it’s important to keep our muscles strong.

From the age of 30, the number of muscle cells in our bodies begins to decrease by 1-2% per year. We can combat this by doing activities which ensure we keep, or improve, our muscle mass. This helps with lots of things that keep us fit, healthy and living independently in our later years.

Exercise can improve balance and coordination which, in turn, can help to prevent falls. It can also prevent or slow osteoporosis and lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and other serious illness. Staying active can improve your immune system, help you to sleep better and gives you a boost of feel good chemicals too!

Guidelines say we should do 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. This can be broken down into smaller chunks. Here’s what you should keep in mind when you’re exercising:

1) Flexibility

Side lean demonstrationStretching keeps our joints supple so we can reach up into cupboards and bend down to put on shoes. Try this exercise to help with leaning down and posture:
  • Stand up tall and imagine you’re between two panes of glass so you can’t twist.
  • Tighten up your abdominal muscles and lean to one side, keeping your head in line with your spine.
  • Return so you’re sitting up straight and repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat 4 times each way.

2) Aerobics

Seated march demonstrationDo an activity to get your heart, breathing and body temperature up to feel the difference. This could a brisk walk or simply stepping up and down on your stairs. If you find walking difficult, sit on a dining chair and “march” on the spot with your arms and legs – lively music helps!

3) Balance

Heel raise demonstrationOur balance can decline without us realising it. It’s vital for all sorts of activities like getting out and about. Give this exercise a go to improve your balance:
  • Face a kitchen work surface and hold on to it for support with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lift both heels and hold for a count of ten then lower with control.
  • Over time, work on doing this with just fingertip support and then without holding on.
  • As you get more advanced, you can try balancing on one leg but make sure there’s something to hold on to.

4) Strength

Sit to stand demonstrationAll activities are easier if we’re strong and it can help with energy levels as a strong muscle is more efficient and tires less. We use resistance bands in our classes but you can give this sit-to-stand exercise a go at home:
  • Put a strong upright chair with its back to the wall to steady it.
  • Sit up tall, towards the front of the chair with your feet lined up under your knees.
  • Lift up out of the chair and then sit down again with control.
  • Take note of how many you can do in 30 seconds and track how you improve!

Download free exercise guides from Move it or Lose it.

Posted by Julie Robinson, Move It or Lose It at 00:00 Wednesday, 07 September 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, Move it or Lose it,