Access and Resources
Remaining Active in Old Age
Physical activity is a great way to stay independent, healthy and involved in your community. Here’s information to help seniors get active or keep active – walking, on transit, riding bicycles and tricycles, or getting around with the assistance of other devices.
There is no better way to stay active and go places than walking. The more you walk now, the longer you will stay active and independent. Walking also helps fight diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and joint problems. It will help lower your blood sugar, reduce body fat, lower blood pressure, and improve bone density. It will even keep you “regular.”
If you walk briskly, enough to raise your heart rate, the benefits are even greater. If you are uncomfortable, slow down. Remember, walking is free and you can do it anywhere!
For some helpful tips on how to walk safely, click here.
Have an injury that makes walking difficult? Consider contacting the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, an initiative of the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health. The Centre researches the prevention, detection, and treatment of bone and joint diseases. It also offers programs that help people regain the freedom that comes with mobility.
As we age we face a greater risk of falling. (One in three seniors falls every year.) Canes and walkers can help reduce this risk. They also can help people who have had a fall to get mobile again. Health Canada identifies a number of factors that may help you determine if you are at increased risk of a fall.
A cane can help with balance or instability. It can also help if you are suffering from an injury. This slide show from the Mayo Clinic shows the different types of cane now available, depending on whether it is needed for balance, weight-bearing or general mobility. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about the type of cane you need.
For more information, Health Canada provides this leaflet on Using a Cane.
A walker is another great way to get active and avoid falls and injury. For some people, though, walkers are uncomfortable or even difficult to use. These tips might help you use a walker more comfortably and safely.
Here are more links with tips on walking and the health benefits of walking:
• Walking Tips for Seniors
• Exercise and aging: Can you walk away from Father Time?
Scooters & Wheelchairs
Scooters and wheelchairs are necessary for many people to stay active. (Even if you must use a scooter or wheelchair sometimes, it is still best to walk whenever you can.)
Disability Resource Victoria assists people with all types of disabilities so that they can lead independent lives. It offers a lot of useful information, including how to access wheelchairs and other resources.
Looking for second-hand wheelchairs and scooters? The Disability Resource Directory can help.
Moderate exercise and stretching can help you stay active longer. The important thing is to know when you are “overdoing it.” The following videos can help you get started:
• Stronger Seniors Balance Exercises
• Stronger Seniors Strength – Senior Exercise Aerobic Video, Elderly Exercise, Chair Exercise
• Stronger Seniors Core Fitness – The 100-Chair Exercise Abdominals Workout for Seniors
You can buy the complete videos from the Stronger Seniors website.
Seniors may face any number of barriers to exercise. Some barriers are common to everyone, like attitude, habit, or a lack of self-confidence. Other barriers, such as poor balance and cognitive decline, are unique to the elderly.
For tips on how to deal with these barriers and get started on your own fitness program, click here.
Here are more links with information on fitness and fitness programs:
• Exercise and Fitness as you Age
• The Surprising Extra Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
• Let’s Get Active! A Seniors Guide to Physical Activity
The Government of Canada’s Health Promotion website has a section on Seniors Health (scroll down) including physical activity tips for older adults.
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information on recommended levels of activity for people aged 65 and older.