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Make 2019 a golden year with these exercise tips for seniors

A group of older people do group exercise in the park
You can exercise as part of a group for even more fun.

Regular physical activity isn’t just for young twenty-somethings working on their beach bods.

Being active most days, or preferably every day, is good for us at any age and it’s never too late to start – even in our golden years.

As you celebrate the beginning of 2019, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about your daily activity goals for the year ahead.

As we get older we might find ourselves impacted by more aches and pains, health issues or by a fear of falls and injuries. But rather than being barriers to staying active, these are all reasons why exercise is so important to our health as we age, due to its role in keeping us strong, mobile and independent for longer.

If you’re a senior who would like to be more active and don’t know how, check out our list of exercise tips to get you motivated.

Firstly, how much physical activity should I be doing?

Being physically active is fundamental to ageing well.

Provided you are generally healthy and have no limiting health conditions, adults aged 65 or older should try to build up to at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days or, ideally, every day. The key is to make moving a habit.

Your 30 minutes can be done all at once or broken into smaller increments, such as three 10-minute sessions per day. Of course, everyone has their limits, and it’s always best to start slowly. If, currently, you are not physically active, start by doing some exercise and gradually build up to the recommended amount. Remember, doing some physical activity is better than doing none.

Don’t forget to check with your doctor about suitable activities for you. If you’ve been inactive for a while, have a health problem, or are concerned about the safety of a new activity or being more active (e.g., doing something more vigorously), it can be helpful to receive some advice.

Why is exercise good for me – what will it do for my body as I age?

Physical activity is beneficial for Queenslanders of all ages. It can make you feel better, is good for your mind and body and improves physical functioning.

Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers and depression and dementia. It improves wellbeing, assists in weight management and can also improve bone health. In older adults, regular physical activity helps reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injury.

Grandfather walks young girl to school

Exercise ideas

Feeling motivated, but don’t know where to start? We’ve put together a list of fun fitness ideas to put on your to-do list. You don’t have to stick with the first activity you try, or do what everyone else is doing. Have fun exploring what kinds of exercise make you feel good.

  • Walking: Walking is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, can be done just about anywhere and is free. You can walk as an individual or join a community based walking group for the opportunity to make new friends as you walk. The Heart Foundation offers walking groups all over Australia. Find a group here.
  • Tai Chi: Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art. Regardless of age or level of fitness many people can benefit from it.
  • Group exercise: Do your exercise as part of a group for even more fun. Whether you’re looking for a motivating fitness class that incorporates dance, music, and movement, or doing a group outdoor exercise session, chances are there’s one happening in your area. Many councils run free or low-cost group activities for seniors, while many private gyms also cater for older Queenslanders with programs and classes designed with seniors in mind.
  • Weight, strength or resistance training exercises. Strength and resistance training is a good way to stay healthy and strong as you age. Remember if you are starting resistance training or wanting to do resistance training more intensively talk with your doctor or a health professional first. There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether at home or in the gym. Examples include lifting weights; dragging, pushing and pulling objects; or using your body weight for resistance activities, such as push-ups and sit-ups.
  • Aqua aerobics: The supportive nature of the water provides ease of movement and reduces impact on your joints. And you get to do it in a fun group environment. Find a class at a swimming pool near you.
  • Gardening: Depending on the size of your garden, maintaining it can also be a great way to be physically active. This could be as strenuous as mowing the lawn, or as gentle as getting a good stretch and practice stabilising yourself while kneeling, sitting or reaching.  Just make sure you stay hydrated and Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.
  • Dancing:  Many types of dance exercise programs are available from salsa, jazz and tap, to ballroom and ballet. This is a great way to add exercise and social interaction to your weekly routine.
  • Lawn bowls: Get involved in this low-impact sport. Lawn bowls can be played for the challenge and competition, personal enjoyment, the pleasure of spending time outdoors and for social interaction.
  • Masters Sports: If you enjoy competitive sport, there are many options available. Some sports have Masters competitions, like rowing, swimming and athletics. Others have several grades, so you can compete at whatever level you feel most comfortable. Contact the state organisation for the activity that interests you the most to find out how you can get involved.

Resources

Choose Health: Be Active – a physical activity guide for older Australians.

Healthier. Happier – stop and think about how small changes can help you be that little bit healthier.

Osteoporosis Australia – tips on how to prevent osteoporosis by maintaining healthy bones through physical activity.

National Heart Foundation– tips for keeping your heart healthy.

Active Ageing Australia – sharing information on healthy, positive ageing and helping people to make positive choices.

Last updated: 7 January 2019