As we get older, we can often adopt a more sedentary lifestyle – exercising less and spending more time indoors, sitting in the car or in front of a computer or TV screen. But this can have a detrimental effect on our overall health, and potentially lead to a number of different conditions that detract from quality of life.
For instance, osteoarthritis of the knee is a very common condition, affecting over 10% of Ireland’s adult population. Those suffering from the condition will start to gradually experience increasing discomfort and pain around the knee when placing weight on it. This can then progress to a more constant background pain, present both when active and at rest, and prevent sufferers from getting a good night’s sleep.
Staying active into old age and retirement is crucial to maintaining good health, a high quality of life and minimising the risk of conditions like osteoarthritis developing. For those over 65, there are four types of exercise that are crucial: endurance, resistance, balance and flexibility.
Regular endurance exercise is essential to raise the heart rate and break up sedentary behaviour. An uninterrupted, brisk walk for one hour is one of the best and easiest ways to get this exercise in on a regular basis, but cycling and swimming are also an option. If you have any existing orthopaedic issues, then aquatic exercise or stationary cycling will place less stress on your joints.
Resistance training is equally important to prevent loss of muscle and bone density, and ensure older people can continue to move as freely as possible. This can be done using light weights, resistance bands or gravity-based exercises. Lastly, balance and flexibility exercises are very important to prevent injury and falls.
Research has shown that it’s never too late to start incorporating more exercise into your weekly routine, and by remaining active it’s possible to slow the ageing process, maintain musculoskeletal health and improve overall quality of life.