So, the summer months have arrived and your son or daughter is constantly asking you if you can babysit the little ones. If they are slightly older, you may be accompanying them on days out, and this is where problems can arise with the fitness of certain seniors. While your grandson may have no problem running ahead of you on that walk to the shopping centre, as a reader of the Ask Granny grandparents blog, you may struggle to keep up.
But physical fitness in older age isn’t just about being able to keep pace with those hyperactive grandchildren. It’s about being able to enjoy all of the things that you have long enjoyed, both indoors and outdoors, without running out of energy, while also minimising your risk for conditions like heart disease and obesity. Senior people are obviously especially vulnerable to such health concerns, and yet, adults aged 65 or over are also the most sedentary age group, spending an average of 10 hours or more sitting or lying down each day.
As the years pass by, it only becomes all the more important for seniors to ensure a good level of physical fitness, so that they can maintain their independence. Otherwise, even the most simple tasks, such as cooking with grandchildren, could increasingly take your energy out of you, with more aches and pains occurring where you never had them before, as well as greater vulnerability to falling. Even further bad news is that you can’t count basic everyday tasks like shopping, cooking or housework towards your exercise quota, as they just don’t involve sufficient hard effort to elevate your heart rate.
Thankfully, readers of our online guide for grandparents don’t need to do something really extreme in an attempt to boost their fitness. Just walking fast could be sufficient, as long as it gets your heart rate up. In many ways, the key thing is to simply keep moving, avoiding those long periods each day spent sitting down watching the TV, using the computer (so you can’t be on Ask Granny all day!), driving or sitting to talk with others, read a book or listen to music. Instead, aim for at least 150 minutes, or 2 hours and 30 minutes, of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, whether you opt to walk, push a lawn mower, ride a bike on level ground, play doubles tennis or even do water aerobics.
Are you struggling to get started? Ask Granny would suggest that you initially aim for 10-minute bouts of activity on a daily basis, before gradually increasing the length of time spent. The main target can be achieved with just 30 minutes of physical activity on at least five days per week. Above all, remember that it’s never too late for any senior to get an exercise regime underway. Grandparents’ health deserves to be taken seriously so that you can continue to live a fulfilling and healthy life for many years to come.