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How to encourage healthy ageing one small step at a time

Positive smiling happy Asian senior couple with ok hand sign gesture in the park

The World Health Organisation recommends that as we age, it’s important to remain as physically active as we can. Specifically, the recommendation is for adults aged 65 and older to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week. While staying active as we age can come with its challenges, we’ve taken a look at how minor everyday adjustments can help you work towards achieving this goal.

These recommendations from the World Health Organisation include the guidelines that aerobic activity be done in at least 10 minute intervals. So, while over two hours a week might seem like a big leap, the same health benefits can be achieved with just small pockets of physical activity.
If you or a loved one need a little help to get out and about, engaging the services of an independent support worker can help you with the right support, motivation or simply to help you come up with new ideas. In the meantime, we take a look at some simple steps that you can take to incorporate more movement into your daily routine.

Start lifting more

Here at Mable, we recently posted about the five surprising things that science tells us about how to age well – including the finding that lifting weights promoted a range of health benefits as we age. It isn’t about the overall weight lifted, but about ensuring your muscles have an opportunity to get tired. Keep a pair of small simple weights by the TV and remind yourself to use them when you’re enjoying a little time out. Or for something that can be incorporated into your daily jobs, ditch the trolley for a basket next time you’re at the shops.

Exercise as easy as a walk in the park

If you are able, walking more is a simple way to practice daily exercise. As reported here by the Guardian, speed does matter – so while you are heading to the mailbox, or the bus stop, turn your stroll into a brisk walk to get the most benefit. The author also suggests that being slightly out of breath or breaking into a light sweat is your body’s way of telling you you’re doing it right. You can even get creative like independent support worker Mary and her client, who took to timing their short walks to the coffee shop, in an effort to beat their personal best!  

Work out, thirty seconds at a time

The ABC recently reported on the health benefits of high intensity training for short intervals of time, and how it’s possible to incorporate into daily life. The aim is to embark on short, sharp spurts of exercise – even 30 seconds at a time – ensuring you exert yourself enough to increase your heart rate. Each burst of activity should be followed by a period of rest, with the aim of instructing our bodies to adapt better to strenuous activity. From parking your car a little further away from the shops, to shunning the lift in favour of the stairs, or choosing a path that includes a small incline, everyday life presents us with lots of opportunities to give this type of exercise a go.

Cooking with company

We all know the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet as we age. But for people who have spent a lifetime preparing food for family, the motivation to continue to do so for yourself can wane. Engaging someone to come into your home to help with meal preparation can help to turn the task into a social activity. Maintaining a routine of cooking can also encourage longer periods of standing in the kitchen, helping to curb time spent sitting – a simple change that can potentially have huge health benefits, according to The BMJ.

Find your balance

For anyone who is ageing, trips and falls represent a major health hazard. There are a number of things that you can do in your home to prevent falls and accidents – but these should be coupled with efforts to improve your balance. The American Heart Association recommends simple balance exercises you can do at home, including standing on one foot while brushing your teeth, or walking heel to toe around the house.If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, as reported here by the New York Times, dancing is an excellent activity for those of us who want to be a little steadier on our feet. It references multiple studies that found that social dance improved not only learning, memory and equilibrium, but also balance and gait in older participants.

Staying healthy as you age is often about getting the support you need before you think you need it. The right care worker can work with you to identify opportunities to move more and improve your wellbeing – as well as provide the company and practical support you need along the way.

Search the profiles of independent support workers in your area who can help you take the simple steps towards healthy ageing.

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