Supporting Seniors’ Physical Activity

As the baby boomers are a large part of the aging population, it is important to be physically active to enhance one’s physical, mental and social health and can even to reduce the onset of dementia. It is recommended to exercise for 150 minutes a week such as completing 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week. 
There are various physical activities the aging population can engage in which can include leisure activity (e.g. walking, gardening, dancing, swimming etc.), transportation (e.g. cycling), occupational work or household chores. People of all ages should exercise because physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of mortality. It is estimated that 2 in 10 adults and 1 in 10 children meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines.  
Physical activity provides the opportunity to strengthen your muscles as you will continuously be able to engage in your daily activities without being dependent on a caregiver. Physical activity serves as a protective factor for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and more.
Without exercising in sufficient amounts, it can result in an increase in body fat percentage and a loss in body lean mass. This can lead to skeletal muscle atrophy which is muscle loss due to immobility and/or sarcopenia which results in low muscle strength and mass. Especially in regard to the aging population, the loss of strength and stamina is a major factor attributed in the aging cycle and it can be reduced through physical activity. After the age of 75, about 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women do not part take in physical activity.
Overall, there are 4 main types of physical activity, by doing all of these forms of exercise it can provide more benefits to your overall health. 

  • Endurance/aerobic activities which can involve increasing your breathing and heart rate. Some examples include brisk walking, cycling and swimming.
  • Strength exercises to build stronger muscles which can include lifting weights based on what you are capable of lifting.
  • Balance exercises to prevent fall risks
  • Flexibility exercises involve stretching your muscles.

There are also additional benefits to physical activity when practiced from a young age to when the individual reaches over the age of 65.

  • Increases the ability to live independently while reducing the risk of falling
  • Reducing the risk of mortality from coronary heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Reduces the symptoms of anxiety, depression and can enhance one’s mood throughout the day
  • Aids to build strong and healthy bones and muscles

If you are interested in conducting more physical activity throughout the day, you can contact the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities to learn about the various programs that offered. Some programs include the SCHC Active Living Centre (ALC) where one can take part in various workshops including fitness, yoga, computer literacy and more. For more information:

Written by: Shenen Sivakumar

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