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Age isn’t an excuse, rather a reason. Older adults, whether it is your parents, your grandparents or yourself become vulnerable to numerous health issues as age is no longer on their side and attention must be paid to the simple everyday things you can do to keep healthy and physical.

Lack of physical exercise contributes to the chronic diseases which affect more and more older adults each year. This includes heart disease, various cancers, hypertension, stroke and diabetes. There are ways in which older adults can reap the health benefits of physical activity, maintain autonomy, protect the mind and decrease the risk of health issues, making for an improved quality of life.

There are key recommendations to promote and uphold optimal health as you get older. Use it or lose it, by following these suggestions.

1. Take part in moderate-intensity exercise. It is important to do so for a minimum of thirty minutes for five days of the week. This is exercise that allows you to maintain a conversation whilst doing so. Why not take advantage of our beautiful beaches and esplanades. The Townsville Strand is 2.2 km of glistening seascape which is perfect for a walk with friends, your children and grandchildren. Along the way, find an outdoor gym and perform a few of the resistance exercises to get those muscles working.

2. Get your family and friends on board. As grandchildren and kids ourselves we are very supportive of our own ‘older adults’ in their exercise endeavours. Use it as a time to catch up with your support network. When you have an organised date to be physically active, you are accountable for meeting that person, and less likely to flake on it. There are so many options available which make for a perfect date.

3. Perform muscle strengthening activities at least two days per week. Bone density and strength becomes key in maintaining health and physical independence as you get older. As your age number rises, bone loss occurs, decreasing structural integrity and increasing the chance of falls and related injuries. When muscles pull on the bones during resistance training, they stimulate the bone to increase its density. This can be as simple as carrying your groceries or swimming.

4. Uphold your balance and flexibility. A loss in these areas are the main reason ageing individuals are vulnerable to falls. Exercises which target balance and strength should be performed at least three times a week. Exercises which assist in improving balance include walking sideways and backwards, going from sitting to standing without the use of arm rests and toe walking.

5. Maintain a healthy diet. The science behind weight control and health maintenance does not change with age. It is still critical to have a diet with a large variety of fruit and vegetables and adequate amount of protein. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is best to use as a guide. Try to avoid processed foods and stick to natural whole foods.

You are only as old as you allow yourself to be. With good nutrition and regular exercise you can be 60 going on 21. Be proactive in helping yourself to achieve mental clarity, improved balance and strength, greater self-esteem and remaining autonomous throughout your older years.

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