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Get moving: physio tips for exercise as you age

27 June 2019

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Does the kind of exercise you need to do change as you get older? If you’re middle-aged or older, are there exercises that are important for your health?

In today’s physio tips Rebecca Dodson gives us her ideas for keeping physically healthy as you age.

Balance and coordination exercises are important for fall prevention… 

Falling is the single largest cause of injury across all age groups in New Zealand and it’s even more common for those over 65. Balance and coordination exercises are important for everyone to prevent falls. As you get older, these exercises become even more important to combat the strength, balance and coordination deterioration we all experience.

Your bones and muscles change as you get older…  

From about the age of 30 you lose muscle mass at a rate of about three to five percent every ten years. From 50, this increases to one to two percent per year. The composition of muscle fibres in your body also change as you age. Type two (fast twitch) fibres reduce in size and number more quickly than type one (endurance) muscle fibres.  

You will reach your peak bone mass when you’re about 25-30 years old. After this, your bone mass gradually declines at about one to two percent every year. If you’re a woman, this will accelerate when you go through menopause to about four percent over about a 10-year period.

In addition, your endurance capacity also decreases by about ten percent per decade. 

Bone and muscle mass changes are reversible with exercise and training…

Making sure you include loading and resistance training in your weekly exercise routine will help reverse bone and muscle mass loss and will help keep you in good physical health.

It’s still important to pick something you enjoy doing to exercise…

If you’ve always been active there is often no need to change the sort of exercise you do as you age. You may well already be doing the balance, coordination, loading and resistance work that’s important. But a quick review to make sure your routine ticks these boxes from time to time is a good idea. 

Remember that exercising your brain is also important as you get older….

Learning new hobbies or skills are a great way to exercise your brain. Crossword puzzles, chess, card games and even online games can stimulate your brain. 

Physical exercise can also help to keep your brain in shape. There have been a number of studies that have shown that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. The benefits of exercise for your brain come directly from exercise’s ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate chemicals that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Chronic conditions that affect health and wellbeing become more common as we age… 

If you suffer from a chronic condition of any sort, please check with your doctor about any restrictions or modifications you may need to make when exercising.

Rebecca Dodson

About Rebecca Dodson

 

Rebecca has trained and worked as a musculoskeletal and sports physio for 20 years. Over the past 10 years her passion for women’s health led her to specialise in pelvic floor physiotherapy, pre- and post-natal exercise, clinical pilates and acupuncture. She is a leader in women’s health and in 2015 established Leto Women’s Health with fellow physiotherapist and women’s health leader Stacey Law.

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