By: Rachel Marin, Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology
As you get older, an active lifestyle becomes even more important for your health and to ensure you maintain independence, recover quickly from illness and reduce the risk of disease.
As an exercise physiologist, new clients will often ask me, “Isn’t it better for older adults to ‘take it easy’ and save their strength?”
And the answer to that is an emphatic ‘NO’. Regular physical activity is very important to the health and capabilities of people as they age. In fact, studies show that ‘taking it easy’ is the riskier path to take, and that people who are physically active have increased overall health and longevity compared with physically inactive people.
What do we mean by physical activity?
Regular physical activity can be something as simple as a brisk 30-45min walk nearly every day. It’s about choosing what’s right for you to keep you fit and well for the long term.
Some older people may be affected by chronic health conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, which may limit their exercise options, in most cases these physical limitations don’t rule out all activities.
The best approach to take is to talk to your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist who will work with you to create a personalised exercise program that is healthy and safe.
It’s never too late!
There have been a number of studies that have shown that it is never too late to start exercising, and that physical activity is the main contributor to longevity even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years.
As you age, exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep the effects of ageing at bay. In fact, exercise has the ability reverse the symptoms experienced by those with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, some cancers (breast and colon cancer), depression, osteoporosis, and dementia.
No matter your age or physical condition, it’s never too late to get your body moving. Dedicating just 30 minutes of time each day to exercise can ensure your body will continue to benefit well into your 80s.
“We do not stop exercising because we grow old, we grow old because we stop exercising.”
Kenneth Cooper, MD
 Sallis, 2009, Blair, 2009
 Sallis, 2009, Blair, 2009, Taylor, Zaleski, Panza, & Bhardwaj, 2016