Exercise and the elderly population

We are getting older as a population and keeping the body and the mind healthy is starting to be widely recognized as an important step to ensure optimal longevity. A very recent (10 days ago in fact!) publication from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver provided some strong evidence that two sessions of lifting weights a week may prevent slowing down of our brains.

Why Should We Exercise? Shouldn’t The Elderly Be Taking It easy?!

We are all slowing down (some quicker than others!) But all joking aside, as we age we get ill, we suffer from infections and auto-immune problems that take their toll on the brain and cause what are called ‘White Matter Lesions’. So what are “white matter lesions”? Well, think about these lesions like the damage to the skin caused by a graze or eczema, light scarring that takes a little out of the brain tissue each time and as time goes on reduces the function of the brain making it less effective at what it does. However, it is thought the action of lifting weights and the neuronal activity required boosts the brains pathways and helps slow the development of these lesions.

Great! So What Exercises Should The Elderly Be Doing?

Weight sessions for the elderly need not be rigorous or risky, just light weights and low repetitions (three sets of eight to twelve) covering up to eight exercises for the whole body (American College of Sports Medicine ACSM 2015).

Where Can I Find Someone To Help Me With Exercises For The Elderly?

Mold physiotherapy has always been a big advocate of supervised resistance training and fitness for the elderly (I have a 87 year old client who’s proof of that!) We combine safe management of not only injuries, but design weights and aerobic routines for our elderly population (based on ACSM recommendations). We also make sure that any medical conditions and medications taken will not be influenced by our exercise regimes.

If you are, or perhaps know someone close, who may require some advice on exercising safely and effectively when over the age of 60 do get in touch with me at paul@moldphysiotherapy.co.nz

For those of you wanting to know more about the Canadian research article mentioned, here’s the link.


For those of you who perhaps want to know more about ACSM guidelines, here again is a link


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