By: Jess Walter
When we reach our later years, it is vitally important to try to stay healthy. Exercise plays an important part in maintaining optimum health as we reach our 60s and over. One of the best ways to stay healthy is engaging in regular physical activity, and there are several exercises that are particularly suitable for the elderly, such as yoga and tai chi.
Developing better eating habits in later years is vital too, but a study conducted by Oslo University Hospital suggests that people who exercise live five years longer than the more sedentary. However, the British Heart Foundation claims that 44% of older people do not do any moderate exercise, and this is similar across Europe. The British Department of Health studies show that only 17% of men and 13% of women over the age of 65 are adequately active.
A regular fitness regime of 150 minutes a week is officially recommended for the elderly. Let’s look at how perhaps Tai Chi can be incorporated into this practice.
A Martial Art
Tai Chi is a meditative Chinese martial art, dating from the 12th century. It is known for its relaxing movements, and just 20 mins a day can reap multiple benefits for the elderly. Often practised outside or in community centres, it’s 19 movements and one pose is an effective way to maintain lower body and leg strength. Mental capacity and concentration can also be improved, and it alleviates stress too.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Tai chi reduces blood pressure and helps with arthritic pain, and can improve balance, thus preventing falls which are so common in old age. In a review by the Cochrane group, 35% of tai chi participants were shown less likely to suffer from potentially dangerous falls.
In Private or Public
Promoting faster recovery from strokes and heart attacks, and improving conditions of Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s, this gentle form of exercise can be followed by simply using instructional DVDs which are widely available on the Internet, if you prefer to do it in the comfort of your living room.
Many seniors find tai chi of great help in maintaining fitness and preventing illness, and as it requires no specialist equipment or furniture. For those that prefer to attend a community class, it provides a chance to mingle with other like-minded older people, and make new friends in a relaxing and safe environment.