Super Joyce

As you age, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever for maintaining good health. What you do in your 50s will influence your quality of life in your 60s, and what you do in your 60s will influence how you live in your 70s and so on. Staying active and engaged in your community increases your odds of living a happy, meaningful, fulfilling and healthy life through every decade.

Getting active is not just about adding years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years. You’ll not only feel better when you exercise, you’ll feel sharper, more energetic and experience a greater sense of well-being.

Fashion doyen Coco Chanel is reputed to have said: “the best things in life are free”, and so staying active doesn’t have to break the budget. Walking, gardening and cycling are free and fun ways to stay physically and mentally active. Consider starting or joining a social walking group with friends or participating in the many low cost or free health and wellbeing activities on offer at Victoria’s 400 Neighbourhood Houses or checkout the many free or low cost activities and clubs advertised on your local council’s website.

The Seniors Card program is another way to stay active and involved in the community without breaking the budget. Use the program’s free or concession public transport to make getting out and about a regular thing – whether it’s catching a train to the Royal Botanical Gardens for a picnic or to the wander through Melbourne Museum, where Seniors Card holders and Seniors Business Discount Card holders receive free entry and are eligible for concession prices on exhibitions.

The Seniors Card program was created to encourage older people to keep active and engaged in the community, by providing incentives and making it more affordable to get out and about. Check the Seniors Online website regularly for updates on the thousands of discounts and offers available.

Physical activity for seniors – Tips from Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel

Various studies show that it is never too late to get fit. The human body responds to exercise, no matter what the age, and there are many health benefits, particularly as you get older. About half of the physical decline associated with ageing may be due to lack of physical activity. So the good news is – if you stay active you may prevent or reduce many health problems as you age. Remember to check in with your GP before commencing an exercise program.

Common Myths:

Many older people believe that exercise is no longer appropriate. Some of the common misconceptions that prompt older people to abandon physical activity include:

  • Older people are too frail and physically weak to exercise
  • The human body doesn’t need as much physical activity as it ages
  • Exercising is hazardous for older people because they may injure themselves
  • Only vigorous and sustained exercise is of any use.

But don’t believe these misconceptions, as the benefits are many.

Tips for getting active:

  • Choose activities you find interesting. You are more likely to keep up with an exercise routine if it’s fun rather than a chore.
  • Exercise with friends. Make physical activity an enjoyable social occasion, and checkout Seniors Online to discover the many discounts available on a range of activities available through your Seniors Card.
  • Safe, easy and comfortable forms of exercise include walking, swimming and cycling.
  • Weight training can increase your muscle mass – programs as short as six to eight weeks can be beneficial.
  • Start off slowly and aim for small improvements. Keep track of your progress in a training diary for added motivation.
  • Check your pulse frequently to make sure you aren’t overdoing it.
  • Choose appropriate clothing and safety gear.
  • Don’t let yourself dehydrate – drink plenty of water.

People with chronic illnesses

Some older people have chronic illnesses (such as severe arthritis, osteoporosis or advanced cardiovascular disease) that limit their choice of physical activities. In these situations, it is best to consult closely with your doctor, physiotherapist or health care professional to devise an exercise program that is health and safe.

For more information on physical activity for seniors, visit: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au