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Eight helpful ways that older people can boost their fitness and energy levels

The passage of time ensures that inevitably, everyone becomes older. However, the expression ‘age is just a number’ is a positive and empowering way to look at getting older. In this post by Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we look at eight helpful ways that older people can use exercise.  We will look at ways to stay healthy and fit, along with how to avoid common injuries that older people regularly encounter.

Boost your exercise regime to make your bones stronger

As we age, our bones become more brittle and are easier to break. Exercise and physical activity plays an important role in maintaining bone density and building muscle mass. Doing so also ensures that older people continue to have a high quality of life into their later years.

Muscle wasting (also known as sarcopenia) is also common as we age. Exercise can radically reduce the risk of sarcopenia, bone brittleness and also boost fitness, strength and mobility.  

 

Exercise regularly to protect your brain and body

Studies have shown that exercise, combined with a balanced diet mitigates against the risks of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia and obesity. Particularly as we age, we do ourselves a favour by maintaining a sustained and regular exercise programme over the years.

 

Try weight-bearing exercises

 

The strength of your bones improves when you regularly place a certain amount of load upon them. This doesn’t need to be a heavy weight or  involve a complicated exercise routine. Weight-bearing exercises could simply mean regular brisk walking, jogging and stair climbing. Other gentle weight-bearing exercises include pilates, yoga and tai chi.

As you gradually build fitness, and in consultation with a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist, you may consider trying a more intense form of weight-bearing exercise, such as dancing, hiking or tennis.

 

Try resistance training

 

Resistance training requires your muscles to contract while you lift weights. This is great for strengthening your bones and muscles. For older people, this kind of resistance training should focus on targeting specific areas that are vulnerable to fractures such as the joints, especially the hips and spine.

Some types of resistance training include lifting light weights to improve your upper and lower body strength.

It’s important to note that the amount of exercise you do, and the degree of difficulty of the exercise will depend on the individual, their health status and any pre-existing sporting injuries. If you have any doubts, speak with the physiotherapists at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy about tailoring an exercise program that best suits you.

 

Avoid falls through balancing exercises

 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a fall is an event where a person comes to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor. As we age, our risk of having a fall increases.  Even though the risk of falling increases with age; balance, strength and conditioning exercises will significantly reduce these risks.

An interesting fact is that 50% of all falls occur in the home. Around one third of all people aged over 65 will have a fall each year. Stretching, strengthening and balancing exercise are a terrific way to manage the health of your bones and muscles and their functional abilities.

Risk factors for falls in the home

It’s not only poor muscle strength and poor balance that contribute to increased risks of falling. Here are some other known risk factors:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Medication side-effects
  • Poor nutrition
  • Hazards in the home environment
  • Inner ear problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Poor vision

Despite these additional risk factors, regular exercise that incorporates resistance training, weight training, static and dynamic stretches and balancing exercises can reduce the risk of falls by up to 20%. It’s recommended to incorporate at least 2-3 hours of this kind of exercise each week to gain the most benefit.

Prolonged independence, longevity, increased wellbeing, increased muscle strength and power are some of the benefits that older people can enjoy through exercises targeted at falls prevention. It is important to remember that when doing these exercises, special care is needed to minimise the risks of falling. The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to provide the personalised care and guidance needed for this kind of exercise. We also offer small group balance and conditioning exercise classes at the practice twice per week, which are tailored to the individuals participating in the class.

Try some balancing exercises

Here are some great balance-strengthening exercises to try :  Please ensure you are safe from falling when doing these exercises.

  • Tai chi
  • Heel-to-toe stances
  • Heel-to-toe walking
  • Sideways walking
  • Backwards walking
  • Seated Knee Extensions
  • Standing Leg Curls
  • Toe Raises
  • Step-ups
  • Standing on one leg (with hand support as needed)
  • Repeated chair stands (getting up and down from a chair)

Know how much exercise is right for you

Sadly, only 25% of older adults in Australia get enough physical activity each day. Only 6% will do strengthening and balancing exercises.  

Getting your body moving is generally a good idea, if you are healthy. This can be achieved through cycling, walking, gardening and home maintenance.

If you are feeling unwell, or your body is in a frail condition, it is important to seek professional help before undertaking an exercise regimen. Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can assess your personal abilities, health condition and how you should approach this exercise regime so that you get the most out of it.

Join a community event and get active

Many older people face barriers to getting active that could be financial, social or practical. Here are some resources and services which offer information, encouragement and organised exercise for older people.

 

At Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we offer preventative care to help older people with their balance, strength and body conditioning, which helps to prevent falls. We take a holistic approach to the health and well-being of older people, and see the whole person, not just the condition. We have helped many older people to regain their strength and fitness following a musculoskeletal injury.

 

References

The Conversation (2018) Health Check: How much physical activity is enough in older age  

Exercise and Sports Science Australia. (2018) Healthy Ageing: Age Is just a number if you exercise right?

Sports Medicine Australia. Australian Government. (2019) Active Older People

Sports Medicine Australia. Australian Government. (2008)   Choose Health, Be Active: A Physical Activity Guide for Older Australians.

NSW Ministry of Health (2019) Active and Healthy

The Heart Foundation Australia (2019) Walking Groups

The Essential Guide for Surfers on Sydney’s beaches

Did you know that over 2.2 million Australians hit the waves and surf recreationally?  With the spectacular Maroubra Beach right on our doorstep, we thought it was “high tide’’ for a post all about surfing. Here is the essential guide for surfers to avoid injury out on the waves.

The Benefits of Surfing

For your body

It’s possible to burn up to 1,000 calories an hour with surfing.  This makes it an energy-hungry activity and fantastic for losing weight, along with increasing the strength and muscle tone of your entire body. It is  good to remember that the amount of calories you burn will depend on your body weight, workout intensity and metabolism. This varies from person to person.

For your mind

Surfing has a positive impact not just your body, but also on your overall mental health. Studies have found that surfing can be useful and beneficial for treating Anxiety, Depression, PTSD and Bipolar disorders. Another reason to embrace the beauty of Maroubra’s surfing lifestyle.

Preventing the most common surfing injuries

Surfing is considered to be a safe sort, with 2.2 injuries per 1,000 surfing days. And the majority of injuries aren’t serious.

Don’t believe the hype about shark attacks. You are more likely to get a laceration or sprain through surfing, which account for 75% of all surfing injuries. This is followed by dislocations and fractures.

In terms of the area of the injury, 46% of injuries are sustained to the leg, followed by injuries to the head or face (26%), the trunk/back (13%) and the shoulder and arm (13%).

Precautions, warm-ups, understanding the ocean and checking your equipment before you go out, all significantly lower the risk of injury.

Safety tips for surfers

Surfing obviously looks cool. However it’s more complex and tricky than it looks.  There are a number of things that every novice surfer should remember before catching waves.

  • Get the right board: New surfers will benefit from using a longboard (or Malibu board). This board is designed to be easier to balance, stand up and paddle with.
  • Respect other surfers: Don’t cut in on other people’s waves. Many injuries result from collisions between surfers. Respect other swimmers: Remember that surfers aren’t allowed to surf between the flags on patrolled beaches.
  • Look out for other surfers and swimmers: If you see someone else in trouble, alert the life-guards or if it’s safe, assist the individual.
  • Slap on the sunscreen: Always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
  • Do a pre-surf equipment check: Ensure that your board is waxed up and has grip. Ensure that your leg rope is in good condition. Use the leg rope on your surfboard if you are a beginner.
  • Wear a wetsuit and booties: A wet suit and reef booties aren’t just designed for colder weather. Remember that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes cold water. This extra layer can also offer some protection against sharp reef and rock collisions.
  • Know how to swim to (at least) intermediate level: The Australian coast is a fickle and unpredictable beast. So don’t tackle surfing in the ocean without first knowing how to swim. You should be an intermediate to advanced swimmer before you begin surfing, otherwise surfing will pose additional risks for you.

Learn how to read the ocean

Did you know that there are around 17,500 rips that are operating on the Australian coast on any given day? Surfers and swimmers getting caught in rips account for more deaths than other natural hazards, such as bushfires and cyclones in Australia.

Being out on a board in the water can feel very relaxing. However remember that it can also be a dangerous place. As a surfer, whether you’re a novice or a more experienced surfer, you should know how to read the ocean and avoid dangerous spots.

Where there is a rip, you will see:

  • Murky brownish water caused by sand being stirred up from the bottom of the ocean.
  • Darker colours in the ocean (indicating deep water).
  • A smoother ocean surface with much smaller waves, alongside white water.
  • Waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of a rip.
  • Debris, flotsam and jetsam that’s floating out to sea.

Warm-up before you surf

Surfing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. It involves a lot of different muscle groups when you paddle out, catch a wave, balance on a surfboard and attempt aerial moves. Therefore it’s important to warm-up to prevent injury or painful muscle cramps once you hit the water.

Your warm-up should consist of exercises that increase the heart rate, release tight muscles and lubricate joints.

Breathing Squat: perform a squat movement, exhaling as the body moves down, and inhaling as the body comes back up, extending the arms towards the sky.

Warrior Lunge: Begin in a basic standing position and lunge forward into a lunge position, extend your arms to the sky, push up off front foot and back into starting position. To advance the movement, you can repeat the prior movement and then add a side bend in either or both directions.

Butt Drops: Reach towards the sky and then bend forward to touch your toes. Drop your butt towards your heels as you lift the chest to face forwards. The elbows are inside of the knees, pushing them outwards. Lower your butt as low as possible and keep your chest as tall as possible. Hold this position for one inhale/exhale and then lift your butt back towards the sky, as your head and chest move back towards ground. Stretch the hamstrings and repeat the movement.

Single Leg Upper Body Rotation: Stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent, and your hip pushed backwards. With your arms placed in front of the body, rotate from side to side slowly. Control the movement and remain balanced on one single leg.

T-Rotation Push-ups: Begin in push-up position, and then rotate one arm towards the sky, while simultaneously rotating the body onto one side. You are now balanced on one hand, with the other hand/arm extended towards the sky. Rotate back into push-up position and repeat on the other side.

Bent Shoulder Circles: Keeping a straight back, with slightly bent knees, bend the torso forward. Get to an angle where you begin to feel a light stretch in your hamstrings and bring the arms out to the sides into a T-position. Perform small arm circles for 30 repetitions in each direction.

About Maroubra Road Physiotherapy

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy treat muscle sprains, joint injuries, back, neck and shoulder injuries. In the past, we have treated many novice and experienced surfers in the local area. Coming in for treatment early on reduces recovery time and also the risk of injury recurrence. If you have a surfing injury, the experienced and friendly team here at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy hope to hear from you.

If you would like to book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists, please make an online booking or give us a call on 02 9314 3888.

 

References

ABC Science (2013) Australian Surf Deadlier than Bushfires

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2019) Want to be healthier and happier in 2019 – dive in!

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2018) What exercise burns the most calories?

Sports Medicine Australia (2017) Surfing Fact Sheet

Surfer Today (2018) The Complete Guide to Surf Training

The Victorian Government Better Health Channel (2019) The Health Benefits of Surfing