Close to one in five Australian seniors feel too old to do physical activity, according to Heart Foundation research released for Heart Week (29 April to 6 May 2018).
Other barriers to being physically active included ill health, injury or disability (32 per cent of senior survey respondents), preferring to do other things (13 per cent) and not enjoying exercise (13 per cent).
“The good news is that you’re never too old to benefit from physical activity,” said Heart Foundation National Spokesperson on Physical Activity, A/Professor Trevor Shilton.
“Evidence shows that physical activity really is a wonder drug and the easiest thing you can do to improve your health.”
At least 30 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 35 per cent, it can also help manage depression and anxiety, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers and lower the risk of dementia later in life.
“Regular physical activity is important at all ages and stages through life. Almost all of us can incorporate three 10-minute blocks of activity a day. Easy ways to achieve this include going for a walk around the block or doing active household chores such as vacuuming.”
The Heart Foundation survey revealed that seniors were less likely than younger Australians to be excited about getting active (29 per cent of seniors compared to 38 of younger Australians).
“Despite many Australians being reluctant to start getting active, our research shows that more than 80 per cent of people feel that physical activity has a positive impact on their mood – as it makes them feel happy, energised, satisfied and uplifted,” said A/Prof. Shilton.
Interestingly, Australians are almost twice as likely to be excited about getting active if they have someone to be active with.
People who are physically active with a buddy are also significantly more likely to feel good afterwards when compared to those who are active alone.
“You are more likely to feel motivated to be physically active and keep up the routine if you are active with a buddy – whether that be a friend, pet, or family member,” said A/Prof. Shilton.
Social isolation is a growing problem for many seniors and increases the risk of heart disease.
“Only two in five seniors said they have a physical activity buddy, so this Heart Week I would really encourage them to reach out to find someone to keep them motivated,” said A/Prof. Shilton.
“Heart Foundation Walking groups are a great way to meet new people and to stay active. Many people join the walking groups to lose or maintain weight and stay healthy, but the friendships they make are a powerful motivator for remaining with the program.”
Close to half of Australian seniors state that walking for exercise was the last physical activity they had done for at least 30 minutes (49 per cent), followed by “played sport” (8 per cent) and “walking for transport” (6 per cent). Seniors were most likely to be active in urban parks or walking trails (40 per cent) or at home (27 per cent).
To find out more about the Heart Foundation Walking, visit walking.heartfoundation.org.au or call the Helpline on 13 11 12.
Visit heartfoundation.org.au/heartweek and join the conversation via #heartweek2018 and #dontgetthesits.