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Just 15 minutes of exercise may boost life span

Physical activity and exercise can help you stay healthy, energetic and independent as you get older. Many adults aged 65 and over spend an average of 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. They’re paying a high price for their inactivity, with higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease and early death compared with the general population.

As you get older, it becomes even more important to remain active if you want to stay healthy and maintain your independence. If you don’t stay active, all the things you’ve always enjoyed doing and taken for granted may start to become harder.

You may struggle to pursue simple pleasures, such as playing with the grandchildren, walking to the shops, leisure activities and meeting up with friends. You might start to get aches and pains that you never had before, and have less energy to go out. You may also be more vulnerable to falling. This can all lead to being less able to look after yourself and do the things you enjoy.

Keep moving

If you want to stay pain-free, reduce your risk of mental illness, and be able to go out and stay independent well into old age, you are advised to keep moving. It’s that simple.

There are lots of ways you can get active, and it’s not just about exercising. Most people as they get older want to keep in touch with society – their community, friends and neighbours – and being active can ensure they keep doing that.

Ideally, you should be able to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate endurance activity a week. This would include walking, swimming, cycling, and a little bit of time every day to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. You should try to do something every day, preferably in bouts of 10-15 minutes of activity or more.

Stay active, stay involved, and you’ll stay healthy

There are dozens of exercises you can do to build strength without having to set foot in a gym. Here are a few examples to get started.

The process of building muscles takes time, but the benefits are enormous for your health as a senior. Start with some basic, low-impact exercises: you can promote lower body strength by squatting in front of a sturdy chair. Keep your arms in front of you and be sure not to extend your knees past your toes as you bend to an almost-sitting position. Hold the position for a few moments, then raise yourself back to a standing position, take a breather, and repeat for two sets of 10 reps.

Exercising with light weights or elastic bands helps develop upper body strength. Sit (or stand) with feet flat on the floor and hold weights at shoulder height with palms facing forward, then lift the weights above your head. Other beneficial exercises for upper body strength include side and front arm raises. Aim for two sets of at least 10 reps for each of these three exercises.

Traditional push-ups are a great way to work muscles in the arms, shoulders, and chest. You do not have to do it correctly, you still get health benefits by doing a modified version of this exercise, like wall push-ups. Face a blank wall while standing about arm’s length away, lean forward, and press your palms flat against the wall. Bend your arms and slowly bring your upper body toward the wall, hold for a moment, and push yourself back until your arms are straight again. Do a set of 10 reps, rest, and repeat another set.

Factors like limited mobility and pain can make a difference in the types of exercises you’re able to do. Low-impact exercises allow for less strain on the body while still providing a means of staying physically active. Also, low-impact exercises can help older adults ease into a new workout program. Exercising in the water, whether swimming or doing water aerobics, is a good option, as are gentle forms of yoga or Pilates. Remember that many exercises can be modified to accommodate low-impact needs. Ask our physiotherapists about ways to adapt these activities.