Why physical activity is important
Physical activity improves the health and wellbeing of older people. Being physically active reduces the risk (or delays the progression) of chronic diseases, some cancers and some forms of dementia. Regular physical activity also improves mental health, maintains muscle strength and flexibility, reduces the risk or impact of falls, and helps older people to stay independent. Even a few days of not being active can lead to some physical decline, especially in older people. Social connection, fun and laughter are other benefits.
Physical activity guidelines suggest older people do 30 minutes of medium intensity exercise every day. Doing three lots of 10 minutes is fine.
Older Victorians should vary their activities, and include exercises to improve:
heart and lung fitness - water exercises, swimming, dancing, fast walking and cycling
muscle strength and bone density - lifting and carrying weights, climbing stairs, squats, side leg raises
balance - reaching to the front and to the side, balancing on one foot or toes with a chair nearby for support, tai chi
flexibility - yoga, stretching exercises.
Encouraging older Victorians to join group, team or community activities is valuable, especially people who feel uncertain about exercising alone. Lawn bowls, golf, walking groups and exercises classes are ideal. The Seniors Online Activities Directory has local activities.
Seniors Card holders can get discounts at many sport, leisure and recreation clubs and centres, and gyms.
Victorian Active Ageing Partnership
The Victorian Active Ageing Partnership (VAAP), which starts in October 2015, aims to increase opportunities for older Victorians to participate in physical activity. VAAP particularly targets older Victorians who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, isolated or lonely.
VAAP will focus on developing:
- workforce and organisational capacity
- pathways to engage older Victorians.