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Staying Active In Retirement: How Important Is It?

Staying Active In Retirement: How Important Is It?
30 November 2021 PhysioCentral

Have you recently retired or are planning to in the coming years? Many people’s vision of retirement involves spending quality time with friends and loved ones, indulging in your favourite activities like golf, and doing all the things you’ve never felt you had time for previously, after decades of hard work. There’s just one thing you need to make this possible: the ability to stay mobile, independent and free of pain that may otherwise limit how you can spend your retirement.

Reaching retirement or 65 years of age – whichever comes first – is a big milestone for your body. Naturally, as we age, changes occur in both our cells and organs resulting in changes in the way they work and appear. While some are obvious, like the wrinkling of skin that occurs due to the thinning and a loss of elasticity (among other factors), there are plenty more changes happening that we can’t see – but we sometimes feel as aches or not being able to do things like we used to.

So what can you do to help yourself stay mobile and independent through your golden years? The answer may be simpler than you think – it’s regular physical activity.

 

How Does Staying Active Affect Older Adults?

Physical activity has a wide range of benefits for older adults which include:

Cardiovascular fitness

While ageing is associated with a slow, steady decline in cardiovascular fitness, the rate is doubled for those that are sedentary compared to those remaining physically active. There are many excellent reasons to look after your cardiovascular fitness – it is proven to help support the immune system while protecting against diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes – and even some types of cancer.

Inflammation

Ageing involves the onset of longstanding low levels of inflammation in the body that increases your risk of disease and poor physical functioning. Regular exercise is shown to combat the inflammation that builds up in your body, helping to stave off the negative health consequences.

Strength & force

When it comes to inactivity, its association with body composition changes and increasing body fat percentages paired with declining lean body mass means that the maximum force you can produce can be significantly affected. Strength training, on the other hand, even gently in our older years, has shown to increase lean body mass and improve physical performance.

Mental wellbeing

Another noted benefit of physical activity includes improvements in mental health, a person’s overall wellbeing and quality of life, and delays in the onset of dementia.

Simply put: physical activity matters. A lot. And it can have significant effects on your ability to stay mobile and doing the things you love through your retirement.

 

What Does Physical Activity Look Like? How Much & How Often?

Exercise is an important part of physical activity – but it’s not the only one. Physical activity can also look like social sports, physical activities performed as part of daily living like cleaning or grocery shopping, and leisure activities – like a casual evening stroll in the neighbourhood. We’re focusing on exercise as physical activity because it’s the one that can give you the most benefits when performed intentionally and strategically, yet one that many choose not to do. Global statistics show one in every four to five adults being physically inactive or having lower activity levels than what is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

When it comes to how much and how often, WHO recommends for older adults including between 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, or at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise, meaning “cardio” activities like brisk walking, swimming, cycling, rowing and the like. On top of this, the major muscle groups should be worked with strengthening activities on two or more days per week, and balance and strength training should be done on three or more days per week to enhance functional capacity and prevent falls.

Those that have restrictions should be staying as active as their circumstances allow, and be actively working towards improving their exercise potential and overall health – which is where our practitioners come in.

 

When Should You Start Exercising?

While it’s important to maintain a healthy level of fitness and activity throughout your lifetime, when it comes to getting physical activity-related benefits in retirement, research shows that maintaining your physical fitness from the age of 50 could have a ‘gamechaning’ impact on your health and wellbeing. With a decreasing trend in physical activity found to occur around age 55, this creates a unique opportunity to set good habits early and make a positive change towards health.

 

Taking Pain Medication? Ditch It In Your Retirement

With almost an entire lifetime on our feet before many of us reach retirement, it’s not surprising that many people enter their retirement taking pain medication. While this can be a useful tool to provide short-term pain relief while managing the problem, many people choose to rely on their pain medication as a long-term solution.

The problem here is that pain medication doesn’t ‘fix’ the problem – it simply masks the pain. If the source of your pain is damage to a muscle or tendon, then your painkillers will do nothing to help it repair – instead potentially worsening the problem by removing your ability to detect when you may be further straining and causing further damage. This is where working with your physio or rehabilitation specialist will help you get to the source of the problem, understanding what is causing your pain, and working to treat this, often using physical therapy and exercise, to both alleviate your pain for good – and help prevent it from returning in the future.

 

We Help Retirees & Soon-To-Be Retirees Live Comfortably

Our practitioners work extensively with men and women through and leading up to their retirement, to help optimise health and wellbeing through exercise. While it seems like a straightforward task, the range of changes that occur to our bodies with age means that any exercise must be tailored to a person’s base level of strength and fitness, any medical conditions or previous injuries, their age, gender, and their individual exercise preferences if the program is going to be effective and safe; the consequences of getting it wrong can be painful with long recovery times.

You’ve worked or are working hard to get to retirement – let our practitioners help you take back control of how you want to live your retirement years. Book your appointment online or call us on +852 2801.4801

 

 

References

1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/607859
2. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/what-is-cardiovascular-endurance
3. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272722/9789241514187-eng.pdf
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3320801/pdf/ad-3-1-130.pdf
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6304477/
6. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20190812/Keeping-fit-now-pays-off-in-retirement-says-new-study.aspx
7. https://www.activenorfolk.org/app/uploads/2021/04/physical-activity-in-retirement-transitions-study-full-report.pdf