Queensland Health has many initiative to help older Queenslanders stay healthy, active, independent and on their feet.
Our bodies are designed to be used and this becomes even more important as we get older. Being physically active is essential for health and wellbeing and will also help you to stay independent. Stay independent by being active and improving your strength and balance. Essential elements of physical activity include strength, balance and reflexes. While age can affect your strength and balance, this can be improved by regular exercise on most days of the week. It’s never too late to start. To improve your level of physical activity, get professional help to design a program specific to your needs. If you have been inactive for a while, or have a health condition, check with your doctor before you begin.
1. How active are you?
I do less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week: Yes ☐ No ☐
Moderate physical activity increases your heart rate and breathing and may include sporting activities, brisk walking, swimming, cycling or group exercise.
If you answered ‘Yes’ For overall health and well-being, it is advisable to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week – preferably every day. This can be split into three lots of ten minutes.
2. How steady are you?
I do less than two sessions of balance and strength exercises per week: Yes ☐ No ☐
Balance and strength exercises could include Tai Chi, dancing or a specific program provided by a health professional.
If you answered ‘Yes’ Balance exercises have been shown to be vital to reduce falls, so try to include balance and strength exercises in your physical activity routine at least twice a week. You could attend a Tai Chi class or obtain professionally prescribed exercises from a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.
3. I feel unsteady when walking or I become unsteady when I turn around: Yes ☐ No ☐
If you answered ‘Yes’ Talk to your doctor about what might cause you to feel unsteady. You can have a balance assessment to help identify the cause/s of your unsteadiness. You can ask your health professional to suggest exercises that will strengthen your thigh and bottom muscles and improve your balance. We also offer Balance and Falls Assessments here at ProMed Podiatry. Contact us for more information
4. I find it difficult to get up from a chair: Yes ☐ No ☐
If you answered ‘Yes’ This can be a sign of decreased leg muscle strength. Talk to a health professional about exercises that strengthen leg muscles. Ask if you need a more detailed assessment.
Do you have a plan for your physical activity?
5. I have discussed physical activity with a health professional in the last 12 months: Yes ☐ No ☐
If you answered ‘No’ It is advisable for older adults to:
• Discuss physical activity with a health professional at least once a year
• Have a plan for physical activity which aims to improve your strength and balance and is tailored to suit you. This plan should aim to increase your level of activity gradually over time.
Tips to improve strength and balance to stay independent
• Choose activities that reduce the risk of falling by helping to improve strength and balance. Ideal activities are group exercise programs that include strength and balance such as Tai Chi, or you can have a health professional design a program that best suits your needs.
• Discuss a tailored physical activity plan with your health professional every year. This plan outlines your intended level of physical activity and how this will be achieved.
• To be effective, your physical activity needs to gradually become more challenging. Be active on most days of the week and include balance exercises at least twice every week.
• Consider what shoes are appropriate for the activities you do.
Who can help?
• Exercise physiologist
• Fitness instructors
• General practice nurse
• Occupational therapist
For further information on how to Stay On Your Feet, visit: Queensland Stay on Your Feet® at: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/stayonyourfeet