THE IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE
Functional health is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT benefit of physical activity for older adults. Physical activity contributes to the ease of doing everyday activities, such as gardening, walking or cleaning the house ~ or, being healthy enough for everyday FUNCTIONS! I like to add exercises to my classes that teach people how to walk in snow, or on ice, to carry boxes, lift heavy objects etc, so that everyday functions can then become second nature, and therefore safer to perform.
Strength training is extremely important for all adults, but especially so for older adults, as it prevents loss of muscle mass and bone, and is beneficial for functional health.
Flexibility is also important. Each day you perform aerobic or strength-training activities, you should also stretch the major muscle and tendon groups, with 10-30 seconds for each stretch. Flexibility training will promote the ease of performing everyday activities, and once again promote functional health.
Emotional Wellbeing – the fitness feel-good factor, has been greatly under-valued until recently. The psychological benefits gained through being physically active are of immeasurable importance. Self-esteem, confidence, self-worth, feeling part of a group, all this comes as a result of group exercise. The sense of achievement from just completing regular sessions boosts all those feelings. Social interaction and friendship can evolve within the groups, and often can provide a much needed avenue for meeting new people and making friends. In the USA, these benefits have been noted by the medical profession, and doctors have been known to prescribe patients Zumba® classes as a first step approach to ease signs of depression, with astounding results.
Being Fit Makes you FEEL GOOD!
HOW MUCH EXERCISE IS ENOUGH?
The general recommendation is that older adults should meet or exceed 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. However, it is also recognized that goals below this threshold may be necessary for older adults who have physical impairments or functional limitations.
We all have to start somewhere!
Below are the recommendations of the world’s recognised authority on the subject – ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)
Guidelines for exercise in the Older Adult (recommended for adults aged over 65,
or 50+ with chronic conditions such as arthritis)
Do moderately intense aerobic exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Do vigorously intense aerobic exercise 20 minutes a day, three days a week
Do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, 10-15 repetitions of each, twice to three times perweek
If you are at risk of falling, perform balance exercises
Have a physical activity plan.
If you CAN exceed these recommendations….. do it! The minimum recommendations are just that: the minimum needed to maintain health and see fitness benefits. It doesn’t need to be in a class, it doesn’t have to cost money, a regular healthy walk at the right pace for the right duration will do as well. The key to success is, make a plan, and stick to it! Whatever the weather, make exercise a part of your everyday routine. It is a proven fact that when people exercise in a Group environment, they are more likely to stick to the programme, and therefore more likely to reap the benefits.