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Keeping active as you age

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Staying physically active as you get older has many benefits.

Regular exercise not only helps you to stay fit, but can help to keep you mobile and independent. It’s also a good mood enhancer, giving your brain chemicals a boost for a greater sense of wellbeing.

More specific benefits include:
• management of health conditions (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes)
• reduced risk of chronic diseases
• easing discomfort associated with muscular conditions (such as arthritis or Parkinson’s)
• management of weight
• strengthening of muscles and bones
• increase in balance and coordination
• stimulation of appetite
• maintenance of regular bowel movements

If you’re fit and healthy in general, a good guideline if you do not currently do any exercise is to build up to doing two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities each week, but any amount of activity appropriate to your age and health makes a difference.

A few examples of moderate activity are:
• walking
• cycling on level ground
• pushing a lawnmower
• water aerobics

You can strengthen the muscles in your arms and wrists by lifting weights, or even bags of shopping. Other muscle-strengthening exercises include dancing, yoga, tai chi and gardening. Dancing, yoga and tai chi also help with balance and coordination.

Vigorous exercise
If you’re already active, you can improve your fitness and health by doing 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week, which could include:
• running
• cycling fast or uphill
• climbing stairs
• playing sports

It’s very important to build up your activity levels gradually and always consult your GP before embarking on a strenuous exercise regime.

If you are less mobile, there are also gentle exercises that you can do whilst sitting down.

If you’d like to read more about keeping active as you get older, the following websites are a great resource for information.

NHS

Age UK