How ‘exercise snacking’ could improve the quality of life for over 60s

Dec 21, 2022
Ensuring a decent quality of life through exercise is important for older Australians, given declines in strength and skeletal muscle mass that come with older age. Source: Getty Images.

Researchers from Deakin University have examined a new health and fitness method known as “exercise snacking”, finding it could improve the quality of life for over 65s.

Exercise snacking entails short bursts of regular bodyweight at home strength training that can include a routine of several different exercises such as single-leg knee bends, sit to stand, or single-leg quarter squats performed continuously for one minute with a one-minute recovery break in-between.

Project lead Dr Jackson Fyfe of Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) said it was important to break down common barriers to fitness that older Australians face and ensure seniors are implementing healthy habits to ensure their well-being and independence.

Ensuring a decent quality of life through exercise is important for older Australians, given declines in strength and skeletal muscle mass that come with older age.

As part of the study, researchers brought in 38 male and female participants aged 65 to 80 who did not partake in regular resistance training and split them into four groups.

One group was a control group that did not exercise, another group exercised for five minutes per day, and two groups that exercised for five minutes twice a day or three times a day for four weeks.

The researchers discovered that between 81 and 97 per cent of those in the exercise groups stuck with their fitness routine.

Of those who stuck with their workouts, 82 per cent said they planned to continue exercising once the study had concluded.

Following the study, Dr Fyfe said “by breaking down exercise routines to bite-size intervals of bodyweight movements simple enough to be done at home, people were more likely to stick to their programs, gained confidence in doing new movements, and felt it was having a positive impact on their health.”

“The benefits of exercise are well known, but despite this just 6 per cent of adults aged 50 and over meet the current guidelines for muscle resistance training,” Dr Fyfe said.

“There are lots of reasons why people choose not to exercise. There could be cost factors, fears of getting injured, or feelings of not having enough time, being daunted by the idea of using a gym, or simply lacking the interest and motivation to exercise.”

Seniors exercising.
Source: Getty Images.

Although Dr Fyfe conceded that the four week trial was not long enough in duration to determine with certainty that exercise snacking can offer considerable benefits to health and well-being, he said “there are already plenty of related studies that show minimal-dose resistance training offsets the negative effects of ageing and improves mental health”.

“Australia has an ageing population and we wanted to show that exercise interventions to assist older people to maintain movement and improve their health and wellbeing do not need to be onerous,” Dr Fyfe said.

“These findings show it’s never too late to start exercising and that even small amounts of regular exercise can create positive results.”

If you’re over 60, regular exercise is crucial in maintaining your health and independence and ensuring you have the energy to do more of what you love, like playing with the grandkids.

Not only does regular exercise help you maintain an active lifestyle, but it can help to decrease the risk of developing serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, while helping to lift your mood and improve your mental health as well as your immunity.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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