Regular physical activity has many beneficial effects on physical and mental wellbeing. Being active from an early age can help prevent many diseases just as regular movement and activity can help relieve the disability and pain associated with these conditions. Importantly, the benefits of physical activity can be enjoyed even if exercise starts later in life.
Some Benefits include;
- Reduced risk of developing stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancers and coronary heart disease.
- Weight bearing activities can reduce the risk of post menopausal women developing osteoporosis.
- A reduction in accidental falls.
- Exercise can release endorphins and therefore can help reduce anxiety and depression and boost overall mood.
- Regular exercise can help improve sleep and can help with weight management.
The World Health Organisation has devised guidelines in regards physical activity in this population;
- Engage in moderate intensity activity for approximately 30 minutes a week.
- In addition, one should engage in a strength training programme 2-3 days a week involving the major muscle groups.
What exercise is best?
It is important to engage in an exercise that you enjoy. Here is a list of exercises that you can engage in safely given that you are a generally fit person.
- Light Jogging.
- Pilates/ Yoga/ Aqua Aerobics.
- Strength Training
Overcoming the Barriers to Exercise;
- Some may feel it is too late to begin exercising now. However it is never too late as exercise has many benefits that apply to everyone.
- If you feel you may be lacking in motivation, maybe ask a friend to join you and make it a fun experience.
- If you feel you don’t have the time then try to incorporate activity into your everyday life for example;
- Using the stairs instead of the lift.
- Getting off the bus one stop early.
- Meeting friends for a walk instead of for a coffee.
Exercise tips to help get you started.
- If you are finding it difficult to exercise for 30 minutes start at a level that is comfortable for you and slowly build it up.
- Write down some goals and set deadlines so that you can track progress and this will also help with motivation.
Home Strengthening Programme
So you don’t need to join a gym in order to build strength here is an exercise programme that you can perform at home
- Stand up against a wall with your feet in front of you (distance feet/wall: when your thighs are parallel to the ground your knees should be at 90 degrees).
- Slide up and down the wall, keeping the upper body in contact with the wall.
- Go down to parallel with your thighs.
- Keep the knees in line with the feet.
Repeat 10 repetitions x3.
- Sitting in chair, start with holding a 1-2 kg weight (e.g. a litre bottle of water).
- Bend and straighten the elbow.
Repeat 12 repetitions x3.
Sit to Stand Exercise
- Sit on a chair that has been placed against a wall to prevent slipping.
- With your feet slightly apart and your hips at the edge of the seat, lift your hips up from the seat to stand.
- Slowly return to sitting.
Repeat 8-12 repetitions x 3.
Shoulder Strengthening Exercise
- Stand with a 1-2 kg weight in your hands, arms straight at your sides, thumbs up and your shoulders down and back.
- Raise your arms in a 45 degree angle up to parallel.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
Repeat 12 repetitions x3.
One Leg Balance Exercise
Stand in front of a counter.
- Lift one leg off the ground so as to stand on one foot.
- Try to keep standing without holding on.
- Aim for >30 seconds, then progress to eyes closed.
- Do in front of kitchen counter for support if needed.
Top Tips before you exercise
- Make sure you stretch and warm up adequately before you exercise
- Always make sure you cool down after exercising.
- It is important to eat well and hydrate before and after exercising so that your body has the energy it needs.
If you have any pain or an old injury that you would like to get checked before beginning an exercise programme do not hesitate to contact us on 045 874 133 or book an appointment online with one of our chartered physiotherapists.
by Aisling Mulryan MISCP