Monday, October 18, 2021

WHO’s Exercise Guidelines for Seniors

A sedentary lifestyle can cause more harm than you can imagine. WHO released an exercise guideline for seniors to boost physical activity and help change sedentary behaviour

The pandemic has changed everyone’s routine and exercise habits to a great extent. However, the need for exercise has never been more critical. Recently WHO released a guideline for seniors to boost physical activity and help change sedentary behaviour.

It is recommended that seniors above the age of 65 should aim for 150-300 minutes of physical activity per week.

The guideline explains how regular exercise is key to preventing and boosting immunity. Also, it focuses on the beneficial aspect of staying active to manage heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, as well as, improving mental health conditions. Regular exercise increases happy hormones or endorphins, easing depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and boosting brain health.

“Being physically active is critical for health and wellbeing, it can help to add years to life and life to years, every move counts, especially now as we manage the constraints of Covid-19 pandemic. We must all move ever day, safely and creatively” says WHO director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

The guideline further explains, declining physical capacity in older people often manifests in falls and fall-related injuries that can have serious consequences in their near future hence any kind of physical activity is better than no exercise. 

It recommends that older adults should also do muscle-strengthening workouts that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits. 

As part of their weekly exercise routine, seniors should do workouts that emphasise functional balance and strength training on three or more days per week to prevent falls.

It is also possible to do an equivalent combination of moderate and high intensity workouts throughout the week to reap the substantial health benefits.

Seniors are advised to do exercises that emphasise balance and coordination, to help prevent falls and improve health. And even if you find meeting the minimum requirements too difficult, WHO also explains that doing some physical activity is better than doing none.

Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO director of health promotion thinks that physical activity of any kind or form should be encouraged. Exercising for any duration can improve health and wellbeing. 

The guidelines also reflected poor health outcomes associated with older adults spending too much time being sedentary. Sedentary behaviour is defined as time spent sitting or lying with low energy while awake.

It is recommended that seniors should limit the amount of time being sedentary, replacing it with physical activity of any intensity. If you are not meeting the current exercise recommendations, WHO suggests that you should start by doing small amounts of exercise and gradually increase the frequency and intensity over time.

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