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“PEOPLE WHO EXERCISE REGULARLY IN THEIR 60S ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE MENTALLY FIT IN THEIR 90S.” GEORGE E VAILLANT – HARVARD UNIVERSITY

This article explores the notion of remaining active in later life along with practical steps on staying independent as we age.

Many of us understand the importance of remaining both physically and mentally active once we retire.

The UK Chief Medical Officers have set guidelines for adults to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

You’ll be very happy to hear that there are plenty of activities which can help us to accomplish this, whilst allowing us to stay connected to our local community.

What does it mean to stay active?

Staying active means making the most of each day by having a healthy diet, exercising daily and taking responsibility for the choices we make whether they be mental, physical or social.

While there are some wonderful care options available for those who need extra support, staying active in later life has a direct link to our ability to remain independent for longer.

That independence means that we’re free to lead our lives autonomously, cordinating a shedule and organising activities that enhance our health and wellbeing.

How do people benefit from staying active in later life?

Physical activity has been identified as one of the key factors in promoting health-related quality of life for older people.

Part of this effect is due to the release of endorphins (happy hormones) which increase feelings of motivation, satisfaction and well-being.

Maintain independence

Being able to make our own decisions helps us to feel like we’re in control and living a purposeful life.

Such independence is contingent on staying as active as possible.

Activities such as swimming, dancing and brisk walking can strengthen our muscles, joints and bones, improving mobility.

Being mobile plays a huge part in remaining self-sufficient.

Preserve memory

Higher activity levels increase blood flow to the brain, which in turn helps to preserve our memory skills.

Therefore, someone who regularly exercises, or enagages regularly in cognitive activities is more likely to enjoy better mental health.

One study which was completed on 70 healthy volunteers over 60 years of age found that keeping mentally active can “halve the rate at which the brain’s memory centre deteriorate with age”.

Physical health benefits

There’s strong scientific evidence that keeping active, regardless of your age, can mitigate the risk of serious life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and strokes.

In fact, this cost-free form of medicine can reduce your likelihood of premature death by a whopping 30%!

According to the NHS, adults who complete the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week have up to…

Not only does exercise have amazing physical benefits such as improved strength and balance, but it can also work wonders for boosting self-esteem, energy levels and sleep quality.

Research has found that low-intensity aerobic exercise for 30–35 minutes, 3–5 days a week, for 10–12 weeks was best at increasing positive moods (e.g. enthusiasm, alertness).

Mental health benefits

Being physically active can help prevent common mental health conditions such as mild depression and anxiety, with exercise causing chemical changes in the brain which enhance feelings of positivity and happiness.

Indeed, studies show that there’s approximately a 20% to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity.

Furthermore, having a fitness goal to work towards can boost motivation and self-esteem, resulting in a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

How can I remain active?

Exercise

Exercise is strongly recommended for everyone, at all ages.

The National Institute on Ageing says that, “Exercise is good for people of any age and can ease symptoms for chronic conditions. Contrary to popular belief, weakness and poor balance are linked to inactivity, rather than age.”

A lack of exercise can, therefore, lead to lost muscle mass and weaker core balance, making falls more likely.

Being mobile makes it much easier for a person to maintain their independence, so it’s advised that we try and exercise as much as possible, even if it’s just a 10 minute stroll around the block.

Exercising has been proven to make people feel more energetic during the day, to sleep well at night, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their life – all in all providing a profound sense of wellbeing.

5 examples of physical exercise:

5 examples of mental exercise:

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Maintaining independence in later life is paramount to a person’s physical and mental well-being.

By participating in activities and hobbies, retirees can remain engaged and connected in their local communities.

So, try to maximise your daily routine to remain active for as long as possible!

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