As we get older our bodies decline in function. Taking part in physical activity helps to slow this decline and exercise can help us all stay healthy, energetic and independent. Physical health also boosts our mental health. The NHS has created a physical activity guideline document for people aged 65 and over which give lots of ideas on how to keep the mind and body healthy.
Physical activity can go a long way towards fall prevention. With your parent’s GP approval, consider activities such as walking or water workouts – a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful movements can also be a great way to address balance issue.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier – and it’s free! Active Walks Sefton is a joint project between Walking for Health and Sefton Council providing local organised health walks throughout Sefton.
Gardening is an enjoyable form of exercise, it increases levels of physical activity, helps with mobility and flexibility, improves endurance and strength, helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis, reduces stress levels and promotes relaxation.
It can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol or prevent diabetes, heart disease, depression, and osteoporosis when practised on a regular basis. It gives all major muscle groups a good workout including legs, arms, buttocks, stomach, neck and back. Gardening has a positive effect on both physical health and mental health.
Gardening stimulates all of the senses. The garden is filled with all sorts of sights, sounds, textures, scents, and tastes, it can even stimulate long-forgotten memories.
If your parent no longer has access to an outdoor garden it doesn’t mean they can no longer enjoy gardening. A whole range of herbs, house plants and even vegetables can be grown indoors with the right care and attention.
A herb garden is one of the simplest ways to continue gardening indoors, with the added benefit of being able to use and enjoy the produce when cooking. Popular herbs with health benefits are:
- Basil – Supplies beneficial plant compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other health properties.
- Rosemary – The active ingredient in rosemary known as Rosmarinic acid has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion.
- Sage – Current research indicates that sage may be able to improve brain function and memory, especially in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Growing plants from seed to flower can also be a gentle, stress-free way to keep track of passing time and seasons, Garden Memories by Thrive offer gardening information and advice for people experiencing memory loss.
Dancing is an effective and fun way to add aerobic exercise to a weekly routine. Dance therapy improves balance, decreasing the risk of falls. Your local community may offer dance classes, but why not consider doing classes at home, make it fun, something the whole family can join in with.
The Royal Academy of Dance have introduced a programme, elegantly named ‘Silver Swans®’. These classes are specially designed ballet classes for older learners to improve mobility, posture, co-ordination and energy levels. If you think your parent is ready to release their inner swan you can check the Academy’s Become A Silver Swan page to find a location nearby.
Exercising in your area
Exercise Move Dance work in partnership with Mind offering classes for the over 60’s. They have a Medau class in Liverpool, suitable for sufferers of Parkinson’s and those with visual, hearing or physical impairments.
Age UK Wirral’s Active Ageing Activities offer walking groups, therapies and many other outdoor activities. Take a look at their timetable for some great ideas to get your parent outside and meeting new people.