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Get physical and feel good, says Age Concern President

Media Release, 17 December 2013


Get physical and feel good, says Age Concern President

“At this time of year when we tend to eat more treats than usual, it’s worth remembering the many benefits that come with regular physical activities,” says Evelyn Weir, President of Age Concern New Zealand.

“Whatever your age, having a daily routine that keeps you physically active can do wonders for body and mind. You will feel better, think better and sleep better. Even small amounts of exercise can make a difference - what counts is that it’s regular and varied. That’s why Age Concern has produced a free information sheet: Get physical and feel good. Kia kori, kia ora, to inspire people to give it a go!”

“And remember,” says Mrs Weir, “it’s so much easier to get started and keep going if you make the activities fun, weave them into your daily or weekly routine and do them with others.”

Follow this link to view the information sheet. Hardcopies can be ordered by emailing national.office@ageconcern.org.nz. The information sheet was produced with the help of SeniorVoice members who told us what sorts of activities they enjoy and why. We were only able to include a few of their ‘gems’ in the printed sheet. Here are some more:

Most of all we love to walk and we do every day. I garden and still do much of the heavy work, digging, pruning and if necessary spraying. We travel in NZ and Australia, one has to be fit to do this, long walks in airports, stamina visiting museums, galleries, gardens. We have family and friends for meals. There is much physical energy in preparation and clearing up! I use equipment in the gym but find this dull Tai chi denotes good mental activity as well.


Scottish country dancing - it is both physical and mental exercise, and I think because the dancing is done in 'sets' rather than individually or just in couples, there is a very positive social atmosphere as people are always aware of others and the more experienced dancers guide the less experienced in a subtle but helpful way. I have met some good people through this activity.

I used to enjoy ballroom dancing but no longer have a regular partner. There are usually more women than men when it comes to Scottish country dancing but this doesn't matter as it is easy for women to dance as 'men' - there is no 'romantic' element to this type of dancing.


I like swimming and swim at a local heated pool 3 times a week. I swim continuously for 30 minutes - usually 20 laps i.e. 500metres. I enjoy the support from the water and reckon my whole body exercises in this way. No-one can phone, email or otherwise distract me and so there is a meditative element that is also beneficial. I am 81 years old and I enjoy observing the pre-school swimming classes and have made friendships with other swimmers before and after my swim. I also enjoy gardening.


My husband goes to [the pool] once a week to swim lengths and soak in the hot pool afterwards. He also cuts the hedge with an electric cutter and mows the lawn. My activity is at a Pilates studio once or twice a week for half hour sessions of programmed exercises at my own pace.


I like walking, gardening, reading, researching history, meeting people. I manage to include vacuuming and window cleaning as physical activities.


Gardening and growing vegetables and fruit. Swimming with snorkel and flippers so that I can cover more ground. Like to have a circuitous swim out one way and back another. I would like to walk but find it creates to much back pain. Cycling for the groceries milk and mail on a regular basis. When I was about 68 I got a bike with gears to reduce the strain on knees.


Table tennis is good as there are quick movements not only of feet but also of eyes, which is better for the heart. I enjoy walking because of beautiful scenery and fresh air. Gardening and cycling provide exercise to parts of my body which don’t get it from other activities.


I like to walk my dogs at the dog park as it's a great social activity for them and for me, always meeting lovely people. I go for a walk during my lunch break to clear my head for the afternoon and help with digestion. On fine Sunday mornings I walk my dogs to the local café and we sit in the sunshine while I have a cup of coffee... great socialisation for all as you get to know the café staff and other locals who habitually visit on a Sunday morning. A great way to meet new people.


I belong to a walking group who meet once a week. I enjoy the walk but also the meeting of other ladies. I ride a bike but only short rides. I walk to the beach which only takes 3 minutes. I believe keeping active is very good for the mind and body.


Swimming – because it doesn’t put strain on my back. Living close to the sea as I do, I have observed that the favourite time for older people to swim is first thing in the morning, when the beach is relatively empty or when they have small grandchildren with them.


Ballroom dancing – nothing energetic these days but a slow foxtrot is pleasant and music adds to the pleasure.


I enjoy going to the indoor pool regularly. I have spinal and joint issues, and cannot walk on hard ground. Initially I joined in 'Ezymovers' classes, but these proved too aggravating, so now I walk in shallow water at one end of the pool, for half an hour solid, while the others (mostly retired folk) do the class. I find that the stimulation of the music - old hits with a good beat - makes the time pass quickly and prevents boredom. The people there are very nice and friendly, and I do not feel out of place. I was very unwilling initially, to try out the pool, but managed to overcome this gradually, and develop a habit. Now I miss it if something prevents me from going. I go three times a week, which has improved my fitness, and is not aggravating to my spine.


My physical activity consists of a short walk 2 or 3 times a day. Also, I enjoy and do Tai chi at home during the week. Due to a skeletal muscular condition, I am unable to jog, or walk for a long distance, but a short walk 2 or 3 times a day, plus my Tai chi, seems to do the trick. I have daily home help, but do my own marketing/cooking, plus laundry, light house work. My mobility scooter is my means of transport, also my walking frame. I enjoy my daily walks, also the Tai chi and I realize that the more I can do for myself, the better I shall be.


I began Tai Chi while still working but unfortunately to irregular working hours had to give it up so when I retired took up this pastime again and have now been doing it for nearly 12 years. I go twice a week for around 2 hours a time and it has given me excellent balance, movement and improved bone density – all of which meets with my Dr’s approval.


I try to go fairly regularly to the hot pools for half-an-hour a time during winter – too hot in the summer months. The other pastime which I undertake regularly is gardening which sometimes requires strenuous activity when pruning trees etc.


I am 82 so I am finding that things are starting to get harder to do but I still enjoy getting away to do a bit of fishing, I try to keep myself active by doing odd jobs for various people. I drive for Community Watch at least once a week, I have an exercycle on which I "record" 10km at least 4 times a week and I wonder how it was that I had time for work before I retired.


I enjoy participating at the Waikato University Gym in the” Life fit Healthy heart” programme as well as walking for at least 4-5 kms on the days I am not at the Gym as well as using the stairs in our home many times during the day and gardening.


The most beneficial forms of physical activity are those that maintain ‘functional fitness’ – that is, fitness to carry out everyday activities effortlessly, with ease and without pain. Tai chi is great for this, as is a new concept called somatic exercise that teaches you how to master movement, and improve your coordination, balance, and proprioception. As somatic guru Martha Peterson says, “the more we move, the more choices we have – whether to climb the stairs un-aided at 90 years old, carry your own groceries, run, or play with your (grand) kids. Movement mastery means freedom to be creative in our movement and chosen activities, age notwithstanding.” Somatic exercise is safe, simple and relaxing.


Baby sitting grandkids. Teaching swimming to older adults. And going for long walks to burn off stress.


Outdoor and Indoor bowls, aqua-jogging, walking and gym. At least something every day.


I will be 73 next month. Don’t feel that old really. Work from, and at home. I run a small farm, just a few sheep and some meat goats, plus two dogs and two cats. Animals keep us on our toes – well mine certainly do. I have a large garden, use a ride on mower for most of the lawn, but have a push mower for edges and other hard to get at places. I eat well, and much of the food I consume is grown in my garden, and the meat is usually from my own animals. I try to keep positive, have a few little sayings to keep me on track if I get low. So to sum up, keep active, keep in touch with friends and family, eat the right food, drink in moderation, don’t watch too much tv and be positive.


My main physical activity is walking & I try to go out for a walk of at least 30 minutes each day. I was put onto this many years ago as a health matter & have kept it up.


I mostly walk certainly every day always walk to the bus and never shun any sort of physical activity that I can possibly manage.


Age and worn joints limit my physical activity but I still enjoy an occasional ride on my bike, strangely while walking is a painful experience on my knees, I can still pedal in comfort. I find it a wonderful exercise for two main reasons, cycle tracks go through much scenic country and I can stop to admire the view at any time. Cycling takes a certain amount of concentration and this keeps the mind off worries or concerns, so the ride is mentally relaxing as well as visually and physically stimulating, changing a sour mood into a very good one.


I enjoy shortish walks where there are things to admire, views, the sea, plants and trees – the Botanic Gardens and along the waterfront are especially nice. I enjoy my weekly Feldenkrais class because its keeping me aware of my body and mind, keeps me supple and in balance. I enjoy being out with preschoolers because they keep me alert and active. I see things through their eyes and love their pleasure in physical activity at playgrounds and on the beach. I am enjoying being able to play on the beach and in the playgrounds myself!

I am 72 and up to last year played badminton regularly once or twice a week. My activity is curtailed somewhat now as I am on medication which makes me very fatigued, but I walk for about 25mins most mornings and go to yoga twice a week. I help my daughter in her garden, clearing the jungle, shoveling and barrowing mulch. I do general maintenance around the house and garden. I hope to get back to some badminton soon.

Pushing my motor mower around my lawns which takes about 1hr. 20 min. is not a favourite physical activity but it is nice to gaze over your shoulder and see a freshly mown lawn.


I enjoy Pilates as the exercises are gentle and use much of the body over a session. I always feel “loosened” and relaxed after an hour of Pilates. It is easy to carry on the exercises at home or anywhere else-no equipment needed. I enjoy regular walking. Again, no equipment needed, just a good pair of shoes. It can be done alone or in company, becoming a social activity. It’s a good way to get to know an environment.


I have to be honest - I don't like physical activity. I force myself to do a bit of walking (with earphones and my walkman) and do some maintenance around the house and gardening when nagged to do so. I'm also the only grandparent that still goes on the trampoline with our grandchildren. When I am travelling, my activity level rises considerably, e.g. airport marathons, climbing 200 steps at 3,600 metres above sea level to a Tibetan monastery etc. Basically, I am happy to engage in physical activity towards a particular end, but not as an end in itself.


I do a little walking but that is about all as I have arthritis in both my knees which sort of limits my activity. I do go on trips with Age Concern and with another travel place which often involves walking. As I am 88 I guess I am very lucky to be able to do that and live in my own home, doing my housework, cooking, cleaning, gardening without help. Each morning after my shower I lift weights (2kgs) and do exercises for about ten minutes, so I have good strength in my upper body. Just my knees let me down!


I enjoy being involved with two singing groups, performing at concerts. I enjoy looking after a reasonably sized library, therefore read whenever I get the chance. I do a lot of walking to and fro, and in the evening when the ads come on the TV or no program to watch, I walk to the computer and play brain games. Up and down of an evening is a fair amount of walking. I also enjoy indoor bowls. Consequently I am extremely fit for an 82 year-old.


ENDS


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