Written by MindMate Staff
It seems that the older we get, the less active we are. According to a study from the University of Dundee, published in the journal Age and Ageing, a lack of interest and disbelief that exercise can enhance and/or lengthen life are the main reasons for inactivity among the over 65s.
However, exercise doesn’t have to be punishing, painful or difficult. By doing 60 minutes gentle exercise per day, senior citizens can see progress extremely quickly. Studies have shown improvements in balance, strength, gait, muscular power, blood pressure, endurance and bone density as a result of regular physical activity in older age. For example, one study on 90-year-old women found that 12 weeks of light strength training took the equivalent of 20 years off their thigh muscle age, resulting in improved walking and mobility.
Research from Harvard University also shows that exercise can indeed help you live longer. In one study, it was found that men who burned just 2,000 calories a week through exercise lived two-and-a-half years longer, on average, than sedentary men.
In addition to enhancing physical health, starting a fitness routine can have many mental health benefits too. A joint study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Age Concern found that regular exercise was associated with reduced stress, depression and anxiety. It also enhanced cognitive function and overall psychological well-being and participants also reported increased self-esteem and contact with the community.
If you’re thinking of starting to exercise, you don’t need to throw yourself in the deep end straight away. At the beginning, the goal should simply be to start moving more, this could be as simple as taking a short walk somewhere local instead of taking your car. The key to starting a new regime though, is consistency. A little exercise every day can go a long way, and according to the study by the University of Dundee, most people are more motivated to exercise when they have someone to do it with, so get your friends involved too!