Exercise & The Older Adult

by Ciarán O'Reilly

Ciaran looks after everything outside the Treatment Room! From helping you schedule your Initial Consultation, to dealing with your Insurance Provider.

January 19, 2024

What is the Older Adult?


Have you ever heard the term geriatric or elderly? 

These terms commonly refer to people over the age of 65 and carry the unfair weight of the term ‘unfit’. At mybod, we like to refer to this cohort of people as older adults and believe that with the right balance of exercise, everybody regardless of age, can get through life as pain-free as possible! 

What is Ageing?

Aging can be described as the natural gradual way the body can change over time. People can have their chronologic age which is how old you are in years, their biological age which is when some common changes in the body are seen, and their psychological age which is based on how an individual acts and feels. For example, someone who has the chronological age of 80 who exercises and is an active member of the social community would be seen as psychologically younger than someone who exercises less and is not as mentally or physically active.

Recent Governmental Initiatives & Strategies

A goal of the ‘National Positive Ageing Strategy’ is to increase the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life. In 2023 the Irish Government invested €2.4 billion into older adult services so that people over the age of 65 can live at home independently for as long as possible!

‘Healthy Ireland’ implemented a National Plan for Physical Activity for 2013-2025 to improve the health and well-being of the citizens of Ireland through several awareness campaigns. One of their specific targets was to increase by 1% per annum, the number of older adults undertaking at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Equally, they want to decrease by 0.5% per annum the amount of older adults who do not take part in any physical activity whatsoever.

Benefits of Exercise & Physical Activity

We recommend exercise to everyone! The benefits of exercise include injury, falls, and disease prevention, and is extremely good for your mental health. The official recommendations from the ‘National Physical Activity Plan for Ireland’ is that adults aged 65 years or older should participate in moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes five days per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes on three days per week. We recommend that everybody should try to perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for at least two days per week.

The Benefits of Exercising for the Older Adult

‘It takes a child one year to acquire independent movement and ten years to acquire independent mobility. An old person can lose both in a day’- Professor Bernard Isaacs.

This quote from Bernard Isaacs shows the impact one fall can have on the older adult.

Unfortunately, 1 in 3 older adults will fall each year, with many different risk factors contributing to falls. Some of these include weakness & poor balance, previous falls, and a combination of different medications. How we can address some of these risk factors with regular exercise?

The most common risk factor for falls is weakness, and considering only 27% of older adults reach the recommended weekly exercise targets, it isn’t surprising that so many older adults are falling. It’s been shown that taking part in exercise reduces the risk of falling by over 20%. As well as this, it can lower the risk of cardiac diseases, strokes and diabetes. 

Why Do We Want To Prevent Falls?

Aside from the obvious risk of a fracture, when someone falls, the risk of not being able to get back up is what we call a long lie. A long lie is defined as when someone involuntarily remains on the floor for longer than an hour. Physiotherapists are keen to prevent falls and long lies from happening due to how significantly they can reduce an older adult’s independence.

Nearly 50% of older adults who have fallen but aren’t injured won’t be able to get off the floor by themselves and nearly 20% of these fallers will be stuck on the floor for over an hour.

The risks of having a long lie can include hypothermia, dehydration, and pneumonia to name a few.

Our Older Adult Exercise Classes

At mybod, we offer Older Adult Exercise Classes which run during the week in Portmarnock. These exercise classes are suitable for any individual over the age of 65. Whether you are looking to get moving for the first time in a while, or you’re looking to keep active, the older adult exercise class is the perfect choice. These classes currently operate across two locations, two days a week. Classes are currently available on Tuesday mornings in Portmarnock Parish Centre at 11 am and 12 pm, as well as a Thursday Morning in Portmarnock Scout Den at 11 am.

The Older Adult Class is suitable for all fitness levels. Perhaps you haven’t exercised in months, or even years, and are nervous about getting back into exercise, or maybe you exercise on a regular basis and are looking to further improve your health. Either way, you can have the peace of mind knowing that the class is safe, effective and led by a registered professional. Each class is 45 minutes long and are focused on three main components:

  1. Building strength
  2. Improving cardiovascular health
  3. Improving balance

These are three extremely important components of exercise that everyone, but specifically the older adult should be prioritising. Strength training not only helps to increase muscle mass but also plays a massive role in maintaining and increasing bone density. Research shows substantial increases in bone mineral density following several months of regular resistance exercise. Our Older Adult Class will always include safe and appropriate resistance exercises.

What Does The Class Include?

The class also includes a section dedicated to your cardiovascular health, i.e. keeping your heart happy and healthy. These exercises include several low to moderate-intensity movements, aiming to slightly increase your heart and breathing rate at a safe and appropriate level. As with all our exercises and classes, you have complete control over the intensity and effort throughout. Everything is at your own pace, sometimes that might mean you need a little break, or maybe you’re finding the exercises quite easy and want to pick up the intensity a little. It is completely in your control.

Lastly, but very importantly, the class includes exercises focused on core strength and balance, aiming to reduce the fear of falling and to improve balance in your daily life. As balance control naturally declines with age, and considering that impaired balance is a major risk factor for falls among older adults, our Older Adult Class will always include exercises that target your balance and as a result, make you feel more confident in your day-to-day life.

In summary, the mybod Older Adult Exercise Classes are an excellent choice if you are looking to improve both your physical and mental well-being. You can exercise with the peace of mind that the class is designed and led by a registered professional, who has your health and safety as their main priority. 

If you’re unsure of what is the right fit for you, don’t worry. Feel free to contact us to find out more and we can discuss what would be best suited to your needs!

1 Comment

  1. Muriel Farrell

    Well done to Mybod for combining the evidence and practice to support older adults on the healthy ageing journey, through this excellent initiative. Enjoy !


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *