Older persons week is commemorated annually in South Africa

The Older Persons Week is commemorated annually in South Africa to honour and pay tribute to our seniors and raise awareness on issues that affect and impact them.

Older Persons Week is commemorated annually in South Africa to honor and pay tribute to our seniors. It takes place from 26 September 2022 until 2nd of October 2022.

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent or delay many of the health problems that seem to come with age. Make an appointment with a biokineticist for advice to start exercising safely.

Exercise guidelines for adults aged 65 and older:

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity. 
  • At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.
  • Activities to improve balance. 

Regular exercise is also good for your mind, mood, and memory. Benefits of exercise for adults aged 65 and older:

  • Maintain or lose weight. As your metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight can become a challenge. Regular exercise helps increase your metabolism. 
  • Reduce the impact of illness and chronic disease. People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
  • Enhance your mobility, flexibility, and balance. Exercise improves your strength, flexibility, and posture, which in turn can help with your balance and coordination, and reduce your risk of falls. 

Exercise provides mental health benefits as well:

  • Improve how well you sleep.  Regular activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed.
  • Boost your mood and self-confidence. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins produced can actually help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. 
  • Improve your brain function  It can aid brain functions as diverse as multitasking and creativity, and help to prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Without regular exercise, people over the age of 50 years can experience a range of health problems including:

  • A Decrease in muscle strength and endurance
  • A Decrease in coordination and balance
  • A Decrease in joint flexibility and mobility
  • A Decrease in cardiovascular and respiratory function
  • A Decrease in bone strength
  • An increase in body fat levels
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • An increase in susceptibility to mood disorders
  • An increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

A biokineticist will prescribe exercises according to the four building blocks of fitness:

1: Balance

Balance exercises help maintain standing and stability, whether you’re stationary or moving around. 

It improves your balance, posture, and the quality of your walking. It also reduces your risk of falling or fear of falls.

2: Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise gets your heart pumping. 

Cardio exercise helps lessen fatigue and shortness of breath. It also promotes independence by improving endurance for daily activities such as walking, house cleaning, and errands.

3: Strength and power training

Strength training builds up muscle with repetitive motion.

Strength training helps prevent loss of bone mass, builds muscle, and improves balance. It is important for staying active and avoiding falls. Building strength and power will help you stay independent and make day-to-day activities easier.

4: Flexibility

Flexibility workouts challenge the ability of your body’s joints to move freely through a full range of motion. 

Flexibility increases your range of movement.


Factors to consider when starting an exercise program:

  • Get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting condition
  • Keep in mind how your ongoing health problems affect your workouts. For example, diabetics may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule.
  • Start slow and build up steadily. If you haven’t been active in a while, build up your exercise program little by little.
  • Prevent injury and discomfort by warming up, cooling down, and keeping water handy.

Ways to stay motivated when life’s challenges get in the way:

  • Focus on short-term goals
  • Reward yourself 
  • Find support and advice by going to a biokineticist

Methods to make exercise fun, but still safe for the elderly:

  • Listen to music or an audiobook while doing strengthening exercises.
  • Window shop while walking laps at the mall.
  • Take photographs on a nature hike.
  • Watch a favorite movie or TV show while walking on the treadmill.
  • Instead of chatting with a friend over coffee, chat while walking, stretching, or strength training.
  • Walk the golf course instead of using a cart.
  • Walk or play fetch with a dog. If you don’t own a dog, offer to take a neighbor’s dog for a walk or volunteer at a pet shelter.
  • Find an exercise buddy
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