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How To Grow Old Gracefully

Who would like to grow old gracefully? I think we all would.

We all know that exercise is good for our mobility and our mental health. Taking 30 minutes of exercise per day can reduced the risk of depression and chronic illnesses as well as helping us to stay agile.

Yet, research suggests that only 32% of people aged 65-69 engage in sufficient levels of exercise. That’s 32% in Ireland with only 17% in Northern Ireland. That seems very low particularly when one would presume that the percentage decreases as people get older. At 65, most people are retired with more time to spend on hobbies, on volunteering, on seeing family and friends, on sport, going on holidays and generally getting out and about.

Barriers To Taking Exercise

However, many of us are more sedentary than we realise. We aren’t taking sufficient exercise to maintain our health and unless we change, our mental and physical health will suffer. Barriers to taking exercise include bad weather, dark evenings, feeling unsafe, not having a nice area to go walking, not having company, not having exercise equipment in the home or nearby. Dense traffic, high levels of air pollution and the distance to a nice place to walk are barriers in urban areas. While country roads in rural areas might sound like the perfect place to take a 30 minute walk, the speed of cars on rural roads means this can be a dangerous pursuit. Of course, if someone is already in pain or experiencing ill health, they are not going to feel like exercising either. Depression can be another factor – it can be very difficult to get enough ‘get up and go’ to go out and exercise if one is feeling depressed.

How To Take More Exercise

  • Set your own realistic targets, don’t be swayed by other people.
  • Get a walking buddy, having companionship makes it more pleasurable plus neither of you will want to let the other person down.
  • Work out how to include more walking in your day.
  • Plan for a relapse – if you have a bad week, it can be all too easy to throw in the towel but you can start again on Monday.
  • Be prepared for bad weather with good rain gear and footwear.
  • Join a walking group or an Active Retirement group.
  • Do something you enjoy most – be it swimming, golf, walking or bowls.
  • Visit a rescue centre and get a breed of dog suitable for your environment. Dogs are great company and they need a walk every day too!

Remember that cardiorespiratory exercise will help your brain, as well as your body, to age gracefully.

Do you feel you take sufficient exercise, would you exercise for at least thirty minutes per day?

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