Mr John (not real name) is 65 years old, he walks a distance of almost a kilometre every two days as part of his effort to stay healthy.
Exercise, according to experts, improves health and mental alertness of people whether elderly or young, hence all categories of people indulge in some physical effort for better health.
There are many reasons why we tend to slow down and become more sedentary, especially with age. It may be due to health problems, overweight, chronic pain or worries about falling during exercise.
A physiotherapist, with the Central Hospital Benin, Thomas Akingbade, described exercise as physical activity that is planned, structured and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body.
He said it is used to improve health, maintain fitness and serve as a means of physical rehabilitation.
Exercise is for all categories of people, especially the elderly said Akingbade, adding, that “as you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to keep good health.”
He said exercise can help boost one’s energy, protect the heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as weight among others
He said, “Scientific studies have found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to one’s life, even if you don’t start exercising until your older years.”
You’ll not only look better when you exercise, you’ll feel sharper, more energetic, and experience a greater sense of well-being.
He explained that exercise helps to maintain or lose weight because the rate of food digestion naturally slows with age and exercise helps increase rate of food digestion and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories.
It reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease. People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
It enhances mobility, flexibility and balance. Exercise improves your strength, and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Thomas noted that maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge at any age, as people feel discouraged by health problems, aches and pains, or concerns about injuries or falls.
“But you don’t have to exercise until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches to make a big difference to your health,” Akingbade said, adding that mixing different types of physical activity helps to keep workouts interesting and improve health.
He said the key to exercise is to find activities that you enjoy, based on the four building blocks of fitness which are balance, cardio, flexibility, strength and power training
Akingbade advised that before embarking on exercise programme, one should get medical clearance from a doctor, especially if one had a pre-existing medical condition to know if there are activities he should avoid.
In doing the exercise, you should consider health concerns, keeping in mind how your ongoing health problems affect your workouts. For example, diabetics may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule.
“Also listen to your body because exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat, or experience pain.
“Put your routine on hold if a joint is red, swollen, or tender to the touch. The best way to cope with injuries is to avoid them in the first place. If you regularly experience pain or discomfort after exercising, try exercising for less time but more frequently throughout the day,” the physiotherapist said.
He said exercise should start slow and build up steadily, adding that if one has not been active for a while, building up exercise programme will help little by little.
“Try spacing workouts in ten-minute increments twice a day. If you’re concerned about falling or have an ongoing heart problem, start with easy chair exercises to slowly increase your fitness and confidence.
“Commit to an exercise schedule for at least three or four weeks so that it becomes a habit, and force yourself to stick to it. This is much easier if you find activities you enjoy,” he stated.
He said in doing the exercise, “people should try to focus on how their bodies feel as you move, the rhythm of breathing, the way your feet strike the ground, your muscles flexing, for example. You’ll improve your physical condition faster, relieve stress and anxiety, and more likely avoid accidents or injuries.”