My doctor told me that the repetitive jumps in running would damage my knees, so I am now too old to run. I’m over 65, tennis is over for me, with all these sudden stops … my back is not going to take it. After 65 years, only the gentle aerobics is good for the body, it reduces impacts.
Wrong, wrong and wrong! How many times do we hear that old age is synonymous with restrictions? That exceeded 55, the impacts and the most intense sports are banned? This is unfortunately a popular thought too widespread, even among some healthcare professionals. Yet it is wrong! Naturally, each person is different and you have to use judgment when you want to choose a physical activity, especially when you have underlying injuries or medical conditions. However, this does not mean that is stuck to knitting as only hobby for the rest of our lives! (Unless knitting is your passion, and even then, you need to be moving anyway! )
As a mature adult, doing physical activity is the best gift you can give to your health. This reduces the prevalence of some diseases associated with age, while helping your muscles stay strong and your joints lubricated. So your body is better able to perform daily activities. Here are some tips and recommendations that can help you get started on a healthy lifestyle, regardless of your age.
Practical guides on the web
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
You are 65 or older, you are generally fit and do not have underlying medical conditions? Look at the guidelines for physical activity from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) to help you determine the amount of exercise a week for healthy life habits.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) offers a lengthy 55-page document explaining the benefits and importance of physical activity for adults and children, with a section for 65 and over. The main recommendations are :
“In adults aged 65 years and above, physical activity includes leisure time physical activity (for example: walking, dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming), transportation (e.g. walking or cycling), occupational (if the individual is still engaged in work), household chores, play, games, sports or planned exercise, in the context of daily, family, and community activities. […]
- Older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
- For additional health benefits, older adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Older adults, with poor mobility, should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities, involving major muscle groups, should be done on 2 or more days a week.
- When older adults cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
For more informations visit : http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_olderadults/en/
Where do I begin?
The trick when trying to include regular physical activity in our routine is to find an activity that we like. This is true for all age groups! Nothing more depressing than getting to jog every day while we hate to run! True, running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise, but there are several others that might way more interesting to you. Same for the location at which you wish to train: the gym is an option, but be aware that some communities/municipalities provide group training with a teacher. For those who hate going to the gym, there are solutions! Do not hesitate to contact your district centers for more information about the programs near you.
To help you choose an activity , some examples of physical activity available for all levels :
Yoga is an activity that focuses on increasing flexibility and strengthening your muscles. No need to be a contortionist to participate in this activity! The positions can be adapted to your flexibility and strength to enable you to get the most possible profit. Some community groups, such as La Relance in Laval, even offer chair yoga for 55 years and over with more limitations in their joints or their strength.
- Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art practiced for hundreds of years, as much for increasing defense skill or for its benefits on the body. Helping with breathing, balance, and strength training, Tai Chi is a great exercise that can be adapted to all fitness levels. Again, several community centers and studios offer introductory courses in the martial art. Ask around you!
Outside during the summer time or stationary, cycling is an excellent cardiovascular exercise and strength training. It helps for conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee and hip, and lack of leg strength. Biking is a pleasant means of transport and a complete training exercise. Going from a little ride outside to an intense spinning class, simply go at your own pace and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise!
- Aquafit and swimming
Like a fish in water! This phrase makes sense here! Indeed, the water brings a lightness effect that allows us to do more without having to support the entire weight of our body. Several choices of pool activities are available to you depending on your level of activity and basic tastes: swimming in the Olympic pool to increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance or aquafit classes in groups for targeted strength and endurance cardiovascular… the choices are varied for those who are not afraid to get wet!
If after all this you still have no idea where to start? Do not hesitate to contact our team of physiotherapists who will assess your orthopedic and other conditions and guide you according to your abilities. You can also consult our certified kinesiologist who can prescribe a personalized exercise program to your needs and goals! We are there to guide you every step of the way!
Meanwhile, the watchword is to MOVE!
Andrée-Anne Lorrain M.Sc. pht