Older, inactive adults lose ground in four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.

Fortunately, research suggests that you can maintain or at least partly restore these four areas through exercise.  What may seem like very small changes resulting from exercise and physical activity can have a big impact.

Regular physical activity can help the human body maintain, repair and improve itself to an amazing degree, and most older people, even those with illnesses or disabilities, can take part in moderate exercise programmes. People who exercise regularly may also be less apt to suffer fractures or other accidents.  Exercise must become one of those things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing your teeth.

Endurance or aerobic exercise increases our breathing and heart rate.  It improves the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system.  Having more endurance not only helps keep you healthier, it can also improve your stamina for the tasks you need to do to live and do things on your own, eg, climbing stairs and grocery shopping.  Endurance exercise may also delay or prevent many diseases associated with ageing, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke and others, and reduce overall death and hospitalization rates.

Strength exercises build your muscles, but they do more than just make you stronger.  They give you more strength to do things on your own.  Even very small increases in muscle can make a big difference in ability, especially for frail people.  Strength exercises also increase your metabolism, helping to keep your weight and blood sugar in check.  That’s important because obesity and diabetes are major health problems for older adults.  Weight bearing exercise promotes strong bones and thus reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

Balance exercises help prevent a common problem in older adults: falls.  Falling is a major cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disability and loss of independence.  Some balance exercises build up your leg muscles, others require you to do simple activities like briefly standing on one leg.

Flexibility exercises help keep your body limber and supple by stretching your muscles and also help to maintain and/or increase range of motion about a joint.

Good flexibility is often related to pain-free movement. Eg. Lower back pain can often be caused by poor flexibility and weak muscles in the back, pelvis and thighs.  Excessive tightness in the front of the thighs can cause the pelvis to tilt too far forwards and increase the curve of the lower back.

II    The mind-body link

You have heard the phrase:  “HEALTHY BODY - HEALTHY MIND”.  Not only are we reaping the physical rewards through exercise, but the mind-body link is so powerful that exercise helps to ease stress, anxiety and depression.  During exercise the body releases endorphins which place the body on a natural high that elevates the mood and lifts depression.  Exercise also increases the production of important brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine which are associated with better mood and alertness.

III    Reducing risk factors – To be healthier, pain free, disease free

The health benefits you gain from exercising on a regular basis lowers your risk of:

  • Heart disease – (reduces the risk by a third)
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Certain types of cancers, such as colon cancer and breast cancer
  • High blood pressure

Regular exercise also helps you:

  • Manage certain diseases better
  • Develop and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • Reduce falls – especially important for older adults
  • Relieve arthritis pain
  • Lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight
  • Extend your life expectancy


Embarking on a balanced exercise programme will enhance the quality of your life thereby ADDING YEARS TO YOUR LIFE AND LIFE TO YOUR YEARS.

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