Keep moving!

Physical activity for aged care

No matter what your age, health or ability, staying active can lead to improved health outcomes and make you feel better.

That was the message presented by exercise physiologists at recent training sessions for Anglicare’s Home Care staff.

The role of our team is to support the health and wellbeing of the people who use our services so they can remain independent and live safely at home.

“Finding ways to encourage people to keep moving is simple, but so important,” said Connie Bruckard, General Manager of Home Care Services. “Our staff work within a Wellness Framework that encourages and supports physical activity by doing household tasks together, walking, light gardening, collecting the mail and shopping or visiting the library” she said.

Exercise physiologist Rob McMillan explained that just one hour of physical exercise spread over the week can make a significant difference to your level of fitness, strength, flexibility and balance. He encouraged everyone to get into a routine and try to aim for 30 minutes of movement per day.

“Don’t be put off. You don’t need to launch into a seven day a week intense program of running or hitting the gym,” he said. “You simply need to build moving in to your everyday life. And you don’t need to do your 30 minutes in one hit either, but can spread your activity out over three 10 minute blocks over the day”.

Rob said it was okay to start out with small steps. “This might mean simply walking from the couch to the kitchen. While there, waiting for the kettle to boil, do a few light exercises to increase strength and improve balance,” he said. “Lift the carton of milk into the air, hold the bench and squat a few times or stand on one leg for a few seconds. Simply standing up from a sitting position a few times a day will significantly increase your leg strength”.

“As your fitness improves, try walking outside to check the mail box or take your dog for a walk down the street.  Do some gardening or wash the car.  Join a yoga class.  Many gyms have classes especially designed for older people”.

Rob said not to expect immediate results.  “One client started out at just 57 steps per day using a pedometer and can now walk over 500 steps,” he said.  “This is a huge achievement and has made a significant difference to his quality of life”.

There is more good news.  On a scale from one to ten – in terms of how hard to push yourself – Rob explained you only need to exercise at about a three.  “This is enough to raise your heartrate and get you breathing more heavily than normal,” he said.

Before beginning any exercise plan, Rob said older people should seek professional advice particularly if they experience mobility or health problems.

A GP can provide a management plan which will allow for five individual sessions with an exercise physiologist to be claimed through Medicare. Some private health insurers also contribute towards the costs of seeing an exercise physiologist. For clients on Home Care Packages talk to your Care Manager to discuss how you can stay active.

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