The importance of exercising

The importance of exercising at an older age

Some facts and figures from Age UK (Later Life in the United Kingdom, Dec 2017)

  • Of women aged 65-74, 35% are overweight & 28% obese.Of men aged 65-74, 53% are overweight & 23% obese
  • Of people aged 75+ plus, only 7% take the minimum levels of physical activity necessary to achieve health benefits
  • Women in their seventies – those who were most physically active and had the highest fruit and vegetable consumption – were eight times more likely to survive the five-year follow-up period than the women with the lowest rates
  • 13 people every day age 65+ died from having a fall in 2016
  • Nearly 65,000 people aged 60+ in England, Wales & NI had a hip fracture in 2015. About 7% of these people died within 30 days, and one third died after 12 months

The Role of exercise

  • Sarcopenia or Muscle Loss: muscle strength declines at an average rate of 3% pa after age 60. By our 70s we’ve lost up to 40% of our strength
  • balanced diets with adequate protein & strength training are the best and only tools we have to combat muscle mass and strength losses
  • Exercise (resistance) training, can increase muscle mass, strength and endurance at any age, & help prevent sarcopenia, obesity, type II diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis
  • government guidelines recommend that older people (65+), who are generally fit do 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise a week
  • some studies have estimated that just two per cent of older adults meet weekly exercise requirements” Daily Telegraph., 17-10-17
  • “Because of their low functional status & high incidence of chronic disease, there is no segment of the population that can benefit more from exercise training than the elderly”

This rather worrying information makes it clear that regular exercise is essential to maintain your health and fitness in older age. In my view it is our own responsibility to try and do something about keeping frailty at bay, within whatever constraints of health and circumstances we find ourselves

One good way of doing this is to attend one of the exercise classes we run 3 times a week at Chorlton Good Neighbours. Unfortunately these classes are now at risk because of the withdrawal of funding after March this year

Exercise classes are held at Good Neighbours each week:     

Monday at 1.30 pm;   Wednesday at 1.30pm;    Friday at 10.00am

We use a graded system that allows older adults to find a class that suits their capabilities, but offers a chance to move to something more / less challenging should you want that.

Over 70 people attend each week, with volunteers providing transport for the Friday seated class where many of the participants are in the 80’s and 90’s. Exercises include balance work, using resistance bands and hand weights, and movements to increase flexibility – as well as arm raising movements with cups of tea at the end!

We also hope to set up additional exercise classes for older people at Chorlton sports club on Hardy Lane….updates to follow

Bernard Leach