.
COTA
Blog | Get Active Stay Well

Get Active Stay Well

22/3/2016

On Wednesday the 9th of March, COTA SA presented the first of our Reframing Ageing seminar series, with the topic Get Active, Stay Well. We had a great response but not everyone was able to attend so in this month's blog post we'll summarise the outcomes from the day.

Research shows that regular exercise has immense health benefits, including significantly reducing the risk of illness and disease, preventing injuries, improving general wellbeing - and is even showing benefits to mental health. In spite of this, less than half of older Australians are doing the recommended levels of exercise to stay healthy.

Current recommendations call for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days and strength training 2-3 times per week, as well as regular flexibility and balance exercises to help you move more easily and reduce risk of falls. This might sound daunting but, as we discussed at the seminar, there are easy ways to incorporate it into your day-to-day routine.

Barriers

One of the focusses of the seminar was on what's stopping people from exercising. What are the barriers? Amongst the most common answers were:

• Motivation
• Time
• Lack of variety, don't enjoy it
• Not knowing what to do or where to start
• Cost
• Feeling embarrassed or out of place at the gym
• Pain/physical impairment

The next step after identifying the barriers to physical activity was to discuss the ways to overcome them; between the speakers and the participants there were some great suggestions.

Motivation

While motivation's a big issue - knowing that you want to change is already a great start, mental attitude is crucial to starting and maintaining an exercise routine. Exercising with a buddy (or group of friends) was a favourite suggestion - you can encourage and motivate one another - and it's much harder to duck out on a class or a walk when someone else is counting on you to go.

Time

The key suggestions here were to make exercise a priority, it doesn't need to be a big part of your day but it should be considered a regular part of your day. Planning ahead is very helpful, rather than ‘feeling like it', have exercise scheduled in ahead of time and make it a routine.

Lack of variety, don't enjoy it

The good news here is that exercise isn't just one thing and doesn't necessarily mean going to the gym - and it definitely doesn't have to be boring. Find something fun to do like walking, playing golf or dancing with friends - there are so many possibilities that there's bound to be something to suit you. For a few ideas see the government pamphlet ‘Tips and Ideas for Older Australians' - http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines/$File/Tips&Ideas-Older-Aust-65plus.PDF

Cost

Getting more exercise doesn't necessarily mean taking on a gym membership; there are lots of other options out there. Some, such as walking, are free; some have concession prices for seniors; others will have special offers and deals to get you involved - Active Ageing Australia are currently running their 5 for 10 Program which gives you five weeks at participating social sports clubs for $10 - visit the website for more information http://www.activeageing.org.au/projects/5-for-10

Feeling embarrassed or out of place at the gym

If you want to take part in exercise at your local gym, there will be people of all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels at most gyms; and many gyms and fitness centres have classes aimed specifically at seniors. But there are lots of other options if exercising at the gym just isn't for you!

Pain/Physical Impairment

Pain and physical impairment can be a challenge - but there are still options out there; in some cases physical activity may even help to relieve the condition. In this case, the best first port of call is to talk to your doctor to find out what you can do without exacerbating your condition. Other options are to talk to your local council to find what services are on offer, such as supervised pool sessions or the Home Activity Monitoring Project (HAMP).

Not knowing what to do or where to start

It can seem a bit daunting at first but there's a lot of information out there to help you get started:
• Talk to your doctor before starting new exercise - find out the best options for you.
• COTA SA's ever-popular Strength for Life Program offers strength training classes for people over 50 at accredited providers - https://www.cotasa.org.au/Programs/life/default.aspx
• Contact your local council - they'll be able to tell you what's happening in your local area
• Active Ageing Australia promotes physical activity for a lifetime of health and well-being; the website includes links to local classes http://www.activeageingaustralia.com.au/training/exercise-class-directory
• Visit the be active page on the SA Health website for ideas http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/healthy+living/be+active

Top Tips

We'll give the last words to our session participants with some of their top tips for incorporating more physical activity into life:
• Find an activity you enjoy with a social aspect
• Find exercises you can do around the home that won't take time out of your day
• Set yourself a goal, it helps to have something to work towards
• Remember, you can do more than you think!

Is this an issue which has affected you? Tell us what you think by emailing cotasa@cotasa.org.au