Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that, by 2050, numbers of those aged 80 or older (aka the ‘oldest old’) are expected to triple to reach 447 million globally. That’s because, of course, we’re all living longer, and there is more and improved management of chronic health conditions.
9th May 2023
When it comes to remaining independent, and enjoying a better, healthier old age, regular exercise is of course extremely important. And while some researchers claim there are insufficient studies into the oldest age group and the benefits of exercise for them, for 60 to 75-year-olds there is enough data to offer convincing guidance.
To live independently as an older person, you clearly need to be able to bathe or shower without help, dress, get in and out of bed or a chair, walk, go to the toilet unaided and prepare and eat food.
As reported in the Washington Post, this requires four things:
The ability of the heart and blood vessels to use and distribute oxygen during exertion. This function falls by more than 20% per decade over the age of 70. Lengthy periods of inactivity make this worse.
Muscle mass declines by between 3 and 8% per decade after the age of 30. This deterioration speeds up once you hit 60 – and the more inactive you are. But you need this power to do things like climb stairs. Muscle loss, or sarcopenia, is one of the reasons why walking alone may not be sufficient to keep older people active and healthy, since it’s not enough to build muscle.
This is the ability to remain stable while moving. It’s essential for walking and avoiding falls.
This reduces the risk of injuries including muscle strains and fractures and may improve balance, while also reducing the risk of falls. Finally, it may also lessen the chances of chronic pain.
The NHS recommends older adults should do some form of physical activity every day to improve health and lessen the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Ideally, over 65s would:
If you either have fallen or feel worried about the prospect of doing so, balance, flexibility and strength exercises will give you greater strength and more confidence on your feet.
The Washington Post also cites an analysis of more than 40 clinical trials of older people (with an average age of 67) found that many different exercise types work, including running, walking, dancing and so on, at different intensity levels and different durations.
Meanwhile, some two decades of research have shown that resistance training can avoid and even reverse the loss of muscle mass, power and strength that people can experience as they age. And one lead researcher, Maria Singh, now based at Sydney University, says strength training in older people should be a priority since it makes other forms of exercise possible. (In other words you need strength and balance before you can even walk around.)
At Fresh Air Fitness, we install outdoor gyms across the UK. We provide a range of products to help older people with cardio and weight training, and maintaining or improving flexibility and balance.
We fit our equipment in places like Marina Court Care Home in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, allowing residents to remain active and sociable.
Our outdoor fitness equipment range includes:
Learn more about our award-winning gym equipment for older adults and those with reduced mobility, designed to provide low-impact exercise options. We have more than 50 pieces to choose from, all of which come with a 25-year warranty.
Whether you’re a council or a facility caring for older people, get in touch today to learn more about how we could keep your residents active, sociable and healthy for longer.
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