The Importance of Exercise & Social Activities as we Age

When we were kids, we’d run around and play for hours upon hours, expending endless bundles of energy. With age though, we sometimes slow down and become more prone to time constraints, or ailments, that prevent us from being as active as we’d like to be. That said, maintaining some form of an exercise routine can prove beneficial to the aging process.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, Nicole Anderson, a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences, suggested keeping a focused fitness routine filled with a variety of activities.

“The recommendation is we need about 30 minutes of exercise a day. But if doing 30 minutes of exercise every day is too much for people, then longer periods for some days and shorter periods on other days also works as long as it totals 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week,” explained Anderson.

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“A lot of people are quite daunted by that (recommendation). But aerobic activity just means doing whatever activity gets your heart pumping,” she continued. “That could be a brisk walk, that could be exercises in the pool. Weight lifting, too, is important for muscle tone. And, as we age, strength and balance activities, such as yoga, dancing or tai chi, are incredibly important because maintaining our balance does become more difficult. Having good balance is so important to prevent falls and hip fractures.”

In addition to keeping the body moving, Anderson noted that another key to positive aging is not falling into an isolation situation.

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I think the key thing in our Western, more individualistic society, is to support seniors better – and support them all together,” said Anderson. “There are new models of senior communal living – so seniors buying a house or a condo and living together even though they are strangers initially to prevent that isolation that can happen.

Added Anderson: “Another key thing is to have age-friendly cities – that’s adopting citywide strategies that make it easy for seniors to get out and stay active. I’d love to see reduced rates or free access to community centre activities…so there are no barriers for seniors going out and being social and getting involved in activities.”

-Adam Grant

On a recent episode of “theZoomer,” Host Libby Znaimer and a panel of medical professionals and lifestyle educators share their expertise on breakthroughs for overcoming common ailments of aging. You can watch this episode below!