Recent research has shown that brisk walking for just 10 minutes each day could cut the risk of heart disease by as much as six per cent. Researchers stated that the exercise needed to be ‘moderate to vigorous’, but only needed to take place for a very short time in order to have an effect on health.
The results of this short burst of activity were incredible. Participants in the study exhibited reduced inflammation, reduced cholesterol and less biomarkers for blood clots. All of these reduce the risk of heart disease, which in women was knocked down by six per cent, and in men by 3.7 per cent.
The research, conducted by the University of Bristol, looked at groups of over 60s in relation to the amount of vigorous activity or light activity they did. Even light activities such as gardening or slow walking was found to decrease biomarkers for heart disease by 0.8 per cent.
How much should older adults exercise?
It’s clear to see from this research that exercise doesn’t need to be done for long periods in order to be effective. The key here was to do something every day, even if its just for ten minutes.
The NHS guidelines for adults over 65 says that everyone should do one of the following:
· 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (cycling, walking) each week alongside strength activities two or more days a week which work on all major muscles
· Vigorous aerobic activity such as running or tennis for 75 minutes a week as well as strength exercises on two or more days
· A mix of moderate a vigorous activity every week to a similar level to the above, as well as strength exercises at least two days a week
These guidelines are in line with those issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and reflect the findings of years of research into the subject. However, for many older adults, these types of activity levels are impossible to achieve, particularly where they have reduced mobility or other health issues to consider.
The benefits of exercise
Whether you’re up to playing 75 minutes of tennis a week or can just about manage a 10 minute walk each day, the important thing is to get up and moving. Being sedentary has been shown to be incredibly damaging to health, leading to issues with posture, circulation, obesity and more. Even a little increase in exercise from your normal levels can lead to a whole host of benefits for your body, including:
· Fall prevention: Strengthening your muscles as well as improving your balance and coordination can reduce the risk of falls. Exercise also increases bone density, and the WHO say exercising regularly could reduce the risk of a hip fracture by around 40 per cent.
· Reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke: Cardiovascular activity (basically anything that gets your blood pumping faster) can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. This could include brisk walking, light housework or cycling.
· Reduce risk of developing dementia: A sedentary lifestyle as you age can increase the risk of developing dementia. A study by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease studied more than 1,600 individuals over a five-year period and found this to be true.
· Confidence and independence: Being physically active can help people stay more independent too. Reducing the risk of falling means reducing fear of falling, which can make individuals happier to do things by themselves.
· Prevention or delay of disease: Many chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease can help to control the symptoms of these problems.
· Longer lifespan: According to the WHO, being sedentary is one of 10 leading causes of death or disability. Even undertaking gentle exercise on a regular basis can increase our lifespan by three to five years.
Here at our home, we encourage residents to take part in physical activity whenever possible. We regularly introduce activities and special events targeted at increasing physical activity and encourage families to come in and participate too. Why not talk to your care worker about what we’re doing to help your loved on stay fit and well?