Exercise. Some love it while others hate it, but you can’t deny its benefits.

Many think that as one gets older, one should slow down and do less physical activity, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

For seniors especially, exercise – provided it’s not overly strenuous – offers additional benefits:

  1. Prevents falls
    It’s a common misconception that weakness and poor balance are linked to ageing when, in fact, it’s often due to inactivity. Strengthened muscles and maintained co-ordination greatly helps in balance and stability.
  2. Reduces risk of stroke or heart attack
    Cardiovascular training – even just a gentle walk – raises the heart rate which helps increase blood flow and oxygen in the body, and allows the heart’s arteries to dilate with ease. It also helps keep weight down (being overweight is a major risk factor for strokes and heart attacks).
  3. Improves quality of life
    Exercise is not just for the body but for the mind as well. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins: these are natural mood-boosters which help improve symptoms of depression.
  4. Helps with cognitive function
    Regular physical activity keeps your motor skills and even your brain in check. Research has found that engaging in exercise that requires remembering sequences of movements, like tai chi, three times a week increases brain volume (studies show there may be a link between brain shrinkage and dementia), as well as improved memory.
  5. Prevents disease
    As we get older, our immunity becomes weaker. Exercise is a big factor in improving overall immune function – studies show that exercise causes an increase in antibodies and infection-fighting white blood cells. Even adding more walking into your daily lifestyle can help prevent diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, as moderate physical activity can help raise HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol).

It’s never too late to get started, and there are many options available for all ages and fitness levels. From outdoor community gyms (which are completely free) to taking up a fun new hobby like dancing, exercise doesn’t have to become another chore.

Phila Sonke Wellness Initiative promotes healthy living and healthy ageing, so they have partnered with Ekhaya Health and Fitness Gym in Dobsonville, Soweto. The gym is affordable and has easy access to exercise facilities and machinery including weights, treadmills, bikes, and rowing machines.

The gym is open every day from 5am until 9pm, and on public holidays from 7am until 12pm.

Membership packages are as follows:

  • Off-peak members (9am to 3pm) – R70
  • Anytime cash members – R200
  • Anytime debit members – R160

Currently, there are around 200 active gym members. To join contact Ekhaya Health and Fitness Gym on 011 988 3683 or transcendingbarriers@gmail.com

Contact Phila Sonke Wellness Initiative for more information on healthy ageing, as well as information about their disability rehabilitation programmes.

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