Physical Health

Te Taha Tinana

Regular physical activity helps to improve physical and mental functions and can reverse some effects of chronic disease, keeping older people more mobile and independent. The sedentary lifestyles that predominate in older age can result in premature onset of ill health, disease and frailty, which in turn can increase social isolation.

Any exercise is better than none, and it is never too late to start. There are a number of organisations that cater to retirees wanting to get out and about. So, what would you enjoy doing? Walking? Yoga? Swimming? Gardening? Setting exercise goals and making exercise dates with friends and family is a great way to ensure you stay active.

Unfortunately, most of us will develop some long-term health conditions, disability and frailty as we age. This means that we need to adapt our social interaction opportunities to accommodate these changes. There is grief in declining health and physical abilities and that’s natural, but sometimes people just stop doing things rather than trying new things that they are still capable of doing.

Thinking ahead and accepting that physical activities might have to alter, but not necessarily stop, can help us to continue to be connected despite changing health conditions.

Things to think about:

  • In what ways can you continue to invest in your physical fitness and do things you enjoy doing?
  • What alternatives are there to the activities that you’ve enjoyed in the past that you might struggle with as you age? You may think you can’t do the Zumba any more, but perhaps your local gym or community centre has adapted classes for seniors.
  • Look into courses and activities that are run in your local community that are easy to access.
  • Consider what is out there that is aimed at people with health and disability issues.