The key to remaining active and strong as you age

Monday this week saw Older Peoples Day in the UK which is celebrated on October 1st each year.  This is linked with the International Day of Older Persons which aims to highlight and address issues effecting the older population.  In the UK numerous organizations are co-ordinating a national programme of activities and events celebrating later life and raising awareness of initiatives that can help older people.

As a population we are benefitting from longer life expectancies, by the year 2035 nearly a quarter of the UK population will be 65 or over. This statistic is driving a long overdue focus on a largely overlooked group.

Here at Orchard Physiotherapy we believe this is an important factor and we are linking with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Love Activity Hate Exercise campaign to encourage more activity in the over 60’s.

As people  get older and enter retirement there maybe numerous benefits, spending time with the family, pursuing a hobby, travelling or having the time to focus on the garden to name but a few, but these go hand in hand with a natural deterioration to our health as we age.  This unfortunately is a natural degression but it is known that it is heavily linked to muscle mass.  As we get older from the age of 30 onwards we lose between 3-5% of muscle per year if we do not exercise to counter this decline.  The loss of this muscle strength increases the risk of falls and other ill health, but  the good news is you can do something about it.  With a little bit of effort we can ensure that our bodies are in the best condition to deal with getting older.

The main way to increase your overall wellbeing, muscle and bone strength and balance is activity.  By combining gentle daily exercises with slight changes to your daily routine it becomes an easily achievable goal, with a bit of dedication overall health is increased and risk of falls is reduced.  Also, by setting and meeting weekly activity targets, over all well-being including better mood and sleep patterns can be achieved.

Simple changes to the daily routine mean we can improve muscle strength whilst carrying out normal tasks that are part of your day to day lives.  Activities such as cleaning the car, mowing the lawn, carrying shopping, walking to the local stores rather than driving, may all be seen as chores, but with the extra time that retirement brings these short low impact activities are a much needed exercise that won’t impinge on your day.  The effects on your body will be no different to those on a younger person, so as your body adapts and gets stronger with this change in routine, it is important to gradually do a little more than before, these small increments will over time make you stronger and healthier  for longer.

Retirement is also a great opportunity to get involved in new activities, it may be something you had always wanted to do or something totally new.  It could be racket sports, ball games, Nordic walking or dancing to name but a few.  Activities like these will strengthen muscles and bones making you healthier but also get you out of the house meeting new people and improving your overall mood.

In addition to this, a simple set of 6 exercises used by physiotherapists that can be done daily or 2-3 times a week, can really improve your strength and balance to reduce the risk of falls.  These can be done in the comfort of your own home, maybe the kitchen or sitting room. All you need are some sensible shoes, a firm support such as a chair and a little time. Watch the following video to see how easy they are.

Here at Orchard we also run a very popular over 60’s Pilates group which has been successfully running, and growing, for a year now.  It focuses on muscle and bone strengthening exercises for the over 60’s, increasing balance along with over all well-being.  The low impact group is widely enjoyed and  has achieved some extraordinary individual successes.  To find out more details contact Reception on  01727 855 414 or email