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Exercise for Older People – What Type Is Best?

We all know that exercise is good for us – it is good for our mental health as well as benefiting our physical fitness and wellbeing. Regular exercise reduces our risk of developing illnesses and afflictions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure. Exercise also improves our memory skills, our muscle strength and our general sense of wellbeing.  Apparently regular exercise also helps with reducing our risk of falling.

The most popular types of exercise amongst older people will include golf, playing games such as bowls, walking and gardening. Swimming and aqua aerobics tend to be popular too. Studies show that simple and regular exercise such as walking the dog or making an effort to take the stairs instead of a lift makes a huge difference to general fitness levels and our general wellbeing as well as reducing stress.  But are there some types of exercise that are more beneficial for older people?

This article suggests that Hatha yoga has more benefits than just improving fitness and suppleness. All participants involved in the study were aged between 55 and 79 from a variety of social backgrounds. What the study found was that those who participated in the Hatha yoga over the eight week experiment had improved information recall, task-switching and mental flexibility compared to those who were simply doing stretch and toning exercises.  Apparently yoga can also improve positivity amongst those who partake in yoga on a regular basis, perhaps because it also involves concentrating on your breathing and on meditating.

Burren Yoga offer yoga holidays which could be a great way to learn more about this method of exercise. If you feel Hatha yoga isn’t for you, it’s still important to do some physical activity every day. Many of us are leading more sedendary lifestyles than previous generations and it can be easy to forget that the the recommended healthy level of physical activity is a minimum of 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate intensity exercise per week. For older people, it is recommended that exercise taken in bouts of ten minutes or more at at time is beneficial. While the benefits of yoga are evident, you don’t have to join a gym or an aerobics class although of course, they also have sociable benefits of getting to meet other people there. Walking and gardening are also great ways to keep fit.

Don’t forget to speak to your doctor before you start exercise if you have a health condition or if you are recovering from an illness.

Photo credit: Burren Yoga

What is your favourite exercise? Do you feel that some are better than others for lifting your mood as well as improving your fitness levels?




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