Exercise And The Elderly
Some people have the belief that exercise is unsafe for elderly individuals, when in fact exercise is extremely safe and important for elderly individuals, for the purposes of this entry elderly is ≥65 years old or 50-64 years old with significant physical limitations that affect movement. Structured exercise has been found to reduce the risk of falls and fractures, improve quality of life, relieve symptoms of arthritis and increase ability to perform activities of daily living in elderly individuals. Along with these benefits, exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of suffering cardiac conditions, such as heart attacks and stroke.
Through a combination of aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance exercises, elderly men and women can greatly improve their functional ability and reduce the risk of injury and illness. Aerobic training is used to help strengthen the heart and improve the body’s ability to utilise oxygen when performing tasks, which reduces the amount of strain placed on the body. Current guidelines indicate that elderly individuals should be undertaking 150-300 minutes of accumulated moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week in bouts of at least 10 minutes, which is quite similar to the guidelines for adults.
Resistance training is great for maintaining bone strength, which reduces the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, as well as relieving arthritis symptoms. Muscle strengthening assists arthritis sufferers by allowing the muscles to take a larger proportion of the load away from the effected joints. Improved muscular strength also allows for greater ability to complete tasks of everyday living. Current resistance training guidelines for elderly individuals are to perform exercises that strengthen major muscle groups on at least two days of every week at a moderate intensity.
Flexibility training is best performed after either resistance or aerobic exercise due to the muscles being warm and reducing the risk of injury. Flexibility is important for elderly individuals as it allows the body to maintain full range of movement and reduce the amount of unnecessary strain placed on the body. It is recommended that flexibility sessions be performed at least two days a week with each stretch being held for 30-60 seconds at the point of tension or slight discomfort.
The incorporation of balance exercises into an exercise program is essential for elderly individuals due to their increased risk of falls and mobility issues. With improved balance individuals are able to better react when faced with a sudden obstacle and mobility is greatly improved. Current recommendations are that balance exercises should be performed 2-3 days a week. There is no recommended intensity for these exercises but should be at a level that provides a bit of a challenge to gain the most benefit.
Our exercise physiologist is well versed in the implementation of these exercise concepts and can individualise a program to suit your individual needs. An elderly fitness class with the exercise physiologist will be introduced in the near future, so watch this space for more information.
For more information about how an Exercise Physiologist can assist with your health and fitness goals please do not hesitate to contact us on or Book Online