Physical Activity and Aging

First Health Care

A woman on a bicycle

Introducing physical activity in your daily life may be perceived as an added burden for some. In fact, it has many benefits that may help you go through your day in a calmer and healthier way.

Why is it important to stay active at any age?

Physical activity at any age plays an important role in health improvement and maintenance. Some benefits include reducing stress and anxiety levels, preventing chronic disease like cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Some exercise such as Tai-Chi can increase brain volume and cognition according to a recent clinical trial published in the Journal of Alzheimer's disease. Physical activity has also been linked with improved selective attention and conflict resolution, associative memory and regional patterns of functional brain plasticity according to the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging.

Being physically active can help you maintain functional independence, maintain your mobility, improve your balance, improve or maintain your body weight, maintain bone health, maintain your mental health and overall feel better.

How much exercise should I do?

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends about 30 minutes of activity per day that you can divide in bouts of 10 minutes. It is important to choose an activity that you like to do and that is adapted to your level of fitness. Anything that provides continuous movement that makes you feel warm and gets you breathing a little harder, counts towards a form of exercise.

With this in mind, some may choose to walk their pets after dinner, take a dance class, be active with the family, go for a hike in nature or join a mall-walking group. According to ParticipACTION, exercise is a great way to stay socially active as well. You may choose to incorporate physical activity as part of your social activities, such as going dancing with friends and family, join a dance group or get the whole family to participate in an activity that is suitable for everyone.

With aging comes some health concerns. Please make sure to have a conversation with your health care provider before starting any activity and make sure to report any symptoms such as dizzy spells, shortness of breath and chest pains. Also, make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you are currently taking, including over the counter and natural supplements. Once your health care provider has indicated that it is safe for you to exercise, choose activities you enjoy, start slowly and make it a habit for a healthier life.

For more information on physical activity we suggest you visit the ParticipACTION website for further information and tips on how to increase your daily activity level.