Well for life

A healthy lifestyle is key to making the most of each day. The earlier you commit to a healthy approach in your everyday life, the better your chances of ageing well.

The recipe for healthy ageing has many ingredients. Eating a balanced diet, keeping your brain active, joining in with others and having friends are all important.

A healthy lifestyle is key to making the most of each day.
A healthy lifestyle is key to making the most of each day.

Being physically active is also key. Regardless of age, regular exercise helps maintain fitness, strength and balance, benefiting not just your body but your mind, health and mood as well. Being physically active is also key to getting the most out of life.

While fitness levels and physical ability vary from person to person, your fitness can decline if you have not been active for a while – particularly if you have health problems or have been unwell. Even a few days of not being active can lead to some physical decline, especially in older people.

The great news is that doing some activity is better than doing none. Starting slowly and building up fitness gradually is important.

Physical activity guidelines encourage older people to undertake 30 minutes of medium intensity exercise each day. This means increasing your heart rate to a level where you can talk but not sing, and it can be done as three lots of ten minutes each day.

Types of exercise

Including a variety of activities each week will help maintain your interest, while improving all aspects of your physical health:

› Fitness for your heart and lungs: water exercises, swimming, dancing, fast walking and cycling;

› Strength for muscle tone and bone density: lifting and carrying weights, climbing stairs, squats
or side leg raises;

› Balance for keeping stable: reaching to the front and to the side, balancing on one foot or your toes with a chair nearby for support. Tai Chi is also a low impact exercise that greatly enhances your balance and stability;

› Flexibility for your whole body: yoga and stretching exercises.

Day-to-day activities can contribute to the 30-minute target. Things like hanging the washing out, carrying the shopping, sweeping floors and doing jobs in the garden are all forms of physical activity.

You can also remain active, even if your mobility is limited or impaired due to arthritis or other health conditions. Chair-based exercise, assisted walking or standing, and water exercise may be good options for you.

Maintaining muscle tone supports physical health.
Maintaining muscle tone supports physical health.

How to get started

A physiotherapist or GP can advise on individual physical activity programs, and an occupational therapist can advise on making your home safer to help prevent falls.

Connecting with community

For some, exercising alone can be challenging. It can be more fun to get involved in community, team or group activities with others. You could try lawn bowls, golf, walking groups or exercise classes. Finding the right activity for you means you are more likely to continue – and reap the benefits.

We can’t avoid aging, but there are plenty of ways to ensure we enjoy a high quality of life as we get older. Given the many options that are available, the key to success is finding an activity that works for you and committing to do it on a regular basis. From there, the ball’s in your court.

Routine and companionship is Muriel’s secret

Going to the gym has been part of Muriel Cotton’s life for 25 years. In February, Muriel attended her 2000th class at Active 30 gym in Bundaberg!

Initially joining the gym to lose weight and get fit, the 85-year-old now focusses on exercise to improve her movement, agility and balance.

“Being active and staying strong makes me feel good,” Muriel says.

The welcoming atmosphere of a women’s only gym is ideal for Muriel.

“Since starting at Active 30 (formerly Curves) it’s been about companionship with other ladies and getting some exercise,” Muriel shares.

“Over the years I have made friends and every now and then I’ll meet with them and we’ll enjoy morning tea together.”

Carinity Home Care client Muriel Cotton is a regular visitor to her local gymnasium.
Carinity Home Care client Muriel Cotton is a regular visitor to her local gymnasium.

Muriel’s attendance doesn’t falter, enjoying a 6.30am class, four times a week. Even while undergoing cancer treatment she maintained her impeccable attendance record.

“It was best to continue a normal routine. Exercising was good for me, and I just made sure I rested more after the sessions,” Muriel says.

Requiring help with the management of several complex health issues, Muriel receives a range of care and support from Carinity Home Care, ensuring her health and wellbeing are maintained so she can remain living independently at home.

“Carinity has been wonderful since the beginning. I have a lifestyle carer who comes in early four days a week to ensure I’m up and ready for the gym, then transports me to and from the gym for the 6.30am class,” states Muriel.

“They also transport me to and from the CWA weekly and provide nursing care fortnightly.”

Muriel’s tip for living well in your senior years is to “Keep active!”

“Just going for a walk is good. Be around other people, doing activities, and going places.”

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