Being active and eating well at any age will help us live long and healthy lives. Staying active as we age can keep us feeling young.
Ageing. This is the one thing that we all have in common. We all age, that’s a fact of life. However, how well we age is a product of both genetics and our environment. Healthy ageing is not just defined as the absence of illness or injury in our advancing years. It’s the way we interact with and contribute to our communities. It’s a product of our physical, mental, and social capacity (1).
How we age is impacted by our lifestyle choices as well as the environment that surrounds us from childhood onwards. Many serious health issues, including some chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure are all linked to lifestyle factors (2). Such factors include a lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol, and social isolation (2). Our lifestyle behaviours can compound over the years and impact on our ability to age well. But it’s never too late to start taking action. Adopting healthy behaviours from any age, even in our advancing years, can help slow the progress of chronic illness and disease and even prevent many illnesses and disabilities from occuring.
National guidelines state that older Australians should aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on as many days as possible. Physical activity helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and musculoskeletal problems and enhance social connectedness by providing opportunities for social engagement (3).
How can organisations like workplaces, retirement facilities, local councils and aged care provide the environment that supports healthy ageing? Health and wellbeing initiatives in the workplace and within the community can encourage people to adopt or maintain healthy lifestyle practices, like daily exercise and movement to help support their healthy ageing.
So, what can organsations and community groups do to support healthy ageing?
“Healthy ageing is defined as ‘the process of developing and maintaining functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age. To fulfil these aspirations, people need to maintain adequate physical and mental health status”.
Elements of a healthy ageing health and wellbeing program:
Functional Physical Activity
Exercise promotes positive physical, functional, mental and cognitive health and helps reduce the risk of diabetes, falls, osteoarthritis, and dementia. Moderate intensity exercise routines help promote blood circulation, heart health, brain function and mental wellbeing.
Stretching routines help promote joint mobilty, muscle pliability, and relieve muscular tension.
Strength promoting activities
Strength routines can help prevent lean muscle mass loss and provide stability and support for joints.
All these forms of exercise, as well as routines that require an element of coordination and memory help promote mental function and memory.
If such activities are participated in with others, social connection and mental wellbeing blooms. (4)
Health and wellbeing programs that make access to healthy activities easier for individuals, groups and workforces play a crucial role and can impact various stages of ageing. Health Breaks is an example of an effective health and wellbeing program that inspires people to do something healthy every day. Creating a positive environment that promotes healthy behaviours within typical settings. Health Breaks has been delivering a health and wellbeing program to aged care workers at Australian Aged Care Group for several years. Not only does this keep aged care staff well, positive and productive, but the older residents often participate too. This is a great example of how early and late stage adoption of healthy behaviours has a positive impact.
Stretching, fitness, strength, stability, meditation and healthy eating activities suitable for healthy ageing are all elements of effective healthy ageing programs. Try this routine above for a touch of strength and flexibility. This is a great example of a healthy break that fits into the typical day without needing equipment or gym facilities.
Find out more about how Health Breaks can support workplaces and other organisations to help older people stay active and healthy.
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