Why exercise in older age is more important than ever…

Only 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 get enough physical activity. Yet, more and more research seems to be suggesting that to maximise your chances of staying healthy and living well with dementia, you need to engage in activities that are going to stimulate you both mentally AND physically.

Now recent research in Finland has added weight to the growing body of evidence that suggests that exercising into your 70s and beyond can drastically reduce the risk of falls that result in broken bones and other serious injuries.

For women the risk of injury is made worse by osteoporosis,or thinning bones, which becomes common when production of the hormone oestrogen declines after menopause.

To study the effect that exercise could have for women in reducing their risk from falls, researchers at the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Finland took a group of 149 women aged 70 to 78 years at the start of the programme and divided them into groups to undertake a programme of supervised workouts 3 times a week for one year. Some did balance training, some strength training to build up muscle tone, some a combination of the two, and some no exercise at all.

After five years of follow up, 61 women had a total of 81 fall-related injuries.

Compared to the women who hadn't exercised, the participants who had followed the programme of combined balance and strength training had a 51 percent less fall-related injuries and 74 percent less fractures, the study found.

Doing only balance workouts, or just strength training, didn’t appear to reduce the risk of injuries or fractures. It was the combination of both types of exercise that proved most beneficial.

The findings bolster previous research that has already proved that improving balance and muscle strength is an important factor in protecting against fall-related injuries. But interestingly, this study goes on to suggest that the benefits lasted even when the intensive physical activity stopped.

Saija Karinkanta, Lead author of the study, draws the conclusion:

“It is useful to train a little bit harder and intensively so that your physical functioning really improves. After that, you can maintain the benefits with lighter, less intensive exercise.”

As the saying goes, Its never too late to start.....and if intensive training may seem a step too far, even low impact work-outs such as walking, swimming or Tai Chi can all help.

Article courtesy of www.compassionatecareforall.org

Swindon Dementia