Why your parents need to exercise (before its too late)

It is a child’s worst nightmare (no matter their age) that our parents could lose their independence due to a catastrophic event. Statistics show that up to 75% of people who fall and break their hip will die within the next 5 years [1]. As horrible as that sounds,  it is the grim reality that we need to be addressing sooner rather than later. 

So What Can We Do About This?

Exercise  is one of the single most effective lifestyle interventions that has shown increased quality of life, decreased mortality and a decrease in severity of common co-existing health conditions (Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoporosis and Heart Disease to name a few). (FFAP, 2002). 

By building balance, strength, coordination and bone density we can greatly reduce the chance of a fall and also greatly reduce the severity.

Am I too old for Exercise?

You’ve probably heard people say things like “Back in my day” or ”When I was younger and fitter”? What is often stereotyped is that exercise is harder or impossible as you get older. But what if that is not the case. It is never too late. In fact as you get older it becomes even more important. 

Trends currently show that physical activity decreases with age. In fact, 70% of Australians over the age of 65 do not currently engage in sufficient exercise, now THAT is a scary stat (AIHW, 2020).

If we can turn this around then we can make a major difference to the lives of older Australians.

How can I encourage my older parents to exercise?

Fear is one of the biggest barriers for older people to begin exercise.

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of getting hurt.
Fear of pain.
Fear of not being able to keep up or feeling silly.

To combat fear we need remove the unknown from exercise and help our parents feel more comfortable.
This can be tricky, but some strategies could include:

  • Broaching the subject in stages – give them a chance to get used to the idea.
  • Show videos and photos of the location they would be attending to get them familiar.
  • Come with them and participate with them (most places will let you join in to help make them feel comfortable)
  • Set them up in a group with people their own age.
  • Organise 1-on-1 sessions so they feel fully supported.
  • Ask them to do it for you or their grand kids rather than for themselves.

What are the benefits of Exercise in older people?

  • Improved heart health – studies have shown that exercise can have a significant effect on weight reduction and a decrease in blood pressure. 
  • Falls prevention – exercise can increase strength, mobility and balance which can decrease the risk of having a fall.
  • Improves cognition – exercise can increase brain activity and decrease brain fog associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
  • Social engagement – exercising in a group setting can shape a sense of belonging as social ties develop, preventing feelings of loneliness and depression which is highly associated with people as we age
  • Improved Quality of Life – ANY form of exercise has shown increases in quality of life. These aspects include self care, independence, daily activities, leisure and family time. 

It’s never too late to start being active!

Are you still too old to exercise? Nonsense! 

Exercise CAN and SHOULD be a fun, social aspect at any age. Moving in any way, shape or form can be beneficial for not only yourself, but your family and those closest to you. Let us help you today by starting the exercise and health journey again.. If you have a family member or loved one who would benefit from being active, get in touch with our team today. 

Alex Josipovic

Exercise Physiologist


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