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Exercise For Older People
July 22, 2023

Staying fit and healthy has enormous benefits for all ages but particularly for the elderly, as being active is an integral part of maintaining your health. Staying fit can reduce the risk of many diseases and ailments, such as the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Even simple movements built into your daily routine can improve an individual’s balance and muscle strength reducing their risk of falls. In addition to this, some studies, have linked physical activity with improved cognitive performance and reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Daily activity can help boost an individual’s mood, as when you exercise, your body releases feel-good chemicals. Activity doesn’t have to be a chore it can be lots of fun, you can use it as an opportunity to catch up with friends and family walking a local park, or even make a new friend at a local gym or pool.

Of course, there are challenges to staying fit and healthy, as we age, it can be hard to get out and about, and mobility can also be an issue. With the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunities for exercise has also been reduced with many classes and facilities not running. But it is possible to create an exercise routine that is easy to follow, safe and a bit of fun to do at home with no special equipment.

To improve health, you should aim to be as active as possible throughout the day. Any type of activity is good, whether it is walking, doing household chores or going to the gym.

The NHS recommends that adults over 65 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity if you are already active. You can, of course, do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

What type of exercise should older people do?

You should try to do a mixture of additional light activity, aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening exercises each week.

Light Activity

Incorporating more light activity into your routine is an excellent place to start if you are currently inactive. You should aim to break up periods of sitting or lying down with regular periods of activity.

Walking around your home or garden at a slow pace or doing chores such as dusting or vacuuming all count as light activity.

Moderate Intensity Activity

You should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity on top of being generally more active. This type of activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster. You know you have got the right level if you can still have a conversation with someone but are too breathless to sing.

Brisk walking is an excellent way to get some moderate exercise. You could also try swimming, dancing, or using an exercise bike.

Vigorous Intensity Activity

If you are already quite fit and active, you can add some vigorous activity to your routine. When you exercise vigorously, you will breathe hard and fast and be too out of breath to say more than a few words at a time.

If you add vigorous activity to your routine, you will only need to do 75 minutes to achieve similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Jogging and running are good examples of vigorous-intensity exercise. Activities such as swimming, dancing and cycling can be vigorous if you do them fast enough. Other vigorous activities include team sports such as football, aerobic routines or using exercise machines at a higher setting.

Muscle strengthening exercises

As well as doing some aerobic activity each week, you could do some muscle strengthening exercises. Strengthening your muscles can help support your joints and ease aches and pains. Muscle-strengthening exercises also reduce the risk of falls.

You don’t need to go to the gym or lift weights to strengthen your muscles. There are many muscle-strengthening activities you can do at home, such as digging the garden.

You can also do exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups at home. These use your body weight to strengthen muscles, so no weights are needed.

Using resistance bands is another easy way to do strengthening exercises at home. There are resistance band routines you can follow online, or you can use a book or DVD

Where to find exercise routines to follow

There are lots of resources that can help you stay fit and active. There are many online resources as well as DVDs, books and classes. Visit the NHS Fitness Studio for some great exercises you can follow at home.

Overcoming obstacles to exercise

Of course, not everyone can take part in activities such as walking or swimming. If you have a disability, you can still take some exercise to improve your health, flexibility and mood. Some exercises can even be done sitting in a chair or lying on a bed.

Here are a couple of examples, but you can find lots more on the NHS website.

Arm raises

  • Sit upright with your arms by your side
  • Breathe in and, with your palms facing forwards, raise both arms out and to the side so you may a T shape. Breathe out as you return to the starting position.
  • Repeat five times

Biceps curls

  • Sit upright holding a pair of light weights such as filled water bottles or tins of beans
  • Keeping your arms by your side, slowly bend them until the weight in your hand reaches your shoulder.
  • Slowly lower again.

I’m worried about falling or hurting myself.

Many older people are afraid of exercising because they fear they may fall or hurt themselves. However, regular exercise for older people reduces the risk of falls significantly as it improves muscle strength and balance.

If you are worried about exercising, start slowly, and build up your strength and stamina gradually. It can help to have a family member or carer on hand to offer reassurance and support.

How Mumby’s can help

At Mumby’s, we believe it is vital to take a proactive attitude towards health and wellbeing.

We ensure all our carers are trained in supporting and encouraging exercise for older people.

Whether your loved one enjoys walking or dancing or needs help with some chair exercises, our carers will be there for them helping them stay active, happy and healthy.

Speak to a member of our team today on freephone 0800 505 3511 or email for more information on how a member of our care team can assist you or your loved with their homecare needs.