Staying Active

Staying physically active is the single most important thing we can do to stay fit and independent.

As we grow older we lose muscle strength and sense of balance and this can lead to a fall. The more active we remain, the better the chance of keeping our muscles strong, our joints mobile and maintaining good balance.

Staying active reduces our risk of a fall, which helps keeps us independent and improves our overall health and wellbeing.

How much activity is enough? At least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is recommended. The exercise should be brisk enough to increase your breathing and heart rate, although it doesn't have to be so hard that you can't talk.

Activities to get your heart rate up and help build fitness include:

  • aqua aerobics
  • brisk walking
  • golf
  • group exercise classes
  • swimming

To reduce your risk of falling, it's also important to include activities that improve your balance and increase your strength. Try to include these into your routine every day.

Activities which are particularly good for balance and flexibility include:

  • dancing
  • gym sessions
  • group exercise classes
  • home exercises
  • lawn bowls
  • pilates
  • Tai Chi
  • yoga.

These types of activity have plenty of benefits. They help keep your heart strong, your blood pressure down, and control your weight. By improving your balance and strength, you reduce your risk of falling and causing an injury or breaking a bone. And they keep you active enough to do the things you want to do, whether that be getting out of the chair easily or maintaining the garden.

Try to mix up the activities—this will exercise different muscles and helps keep you interested. You don't have to do it all in one go—being active in 10-15 minute slots during the day works just as well.

Age is no barrier—research shows that any exercise, at any age, is worth the effort. If you are in any doubt about exercises, please talk to your doctor.

© NSW Health 2015, Staying Active and On Your Feet

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