EXERCISE, VACCINATIONS, AND OLDER ADULTS
We are fortunate in New Zealand to be able to be less worried about catching COVID-19 at the moment – but that doesn’t mean that we are not all more aware of the risk of catching viruses than we were this time last year. There seem to certainly be subtle changes in the way we interact with people socially, and many older people may still feel unsafe about going out.
Less social mingling, or more social isolation, can lead to increased risk of anxiety and depression. Fortunately, engaging in exercise decreases anxiety and depression risk and treats the symptoms of many viral infections. (https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/PAG_Advisory_Committee_Report.pdf).
And now we have the prospect of access to COVID-19 vaccinations before too long. Unfortunately, as people age the effect of vaccination is blunted because older immune systems produce fewer antibodies. The good news is that exercise appears to improve immune system response to vaccination.
Older adults with a chronic history of exercise, and those undergoing acute bouts of exercise before vaccination, produce more antibodies against strains of flu. In addition, exercise just before vaccination has other benefits. It reduces side-effects, including:
- tenderness and swelling at the injection site
- reduced appetite
- feeling unwell
Even small amounts of activity can provide health benefits. If you opt to stay at home, decreasing time sitting still should be your first goal. So what kind of exercise can you fit into your day to help boost your immunity?
Walking outdoors is always a good cardio option, and the Bay of Plenty has some wonderful accessible walkways and boardwalks. Being outside and a bit of sunshine also helps reduce anxiety and depression – try it! If walking outside isn’t an option, marching in place or stepping up and down the first step of your staircase could be an alternative.
Use your own body weight to your advantage as you think of ways to combine household tasks with extra movement:
- Washing the dishes? Do heel raises in front of the sink.
- Putting your groceries away? Use bags full of food to add resistance to biceps curls or front shoulder raises.
- Chair sit-stands are a good option for increasing leg strength and getting blood flowing
Strengthening your core with focused Pilates exercises improves posture and strength and helps prevent lower back pain. Come in for a one-on-one session with Jude to get the basic moves under your belt before starting in our Beginner Class. We offer our classes via a Zoom connection if you can’t come in to the studio for some reason – but remember connection with people is good for mental health too.
Power Plate Classes
For most bang-for-buck there is nothing better than doing your exercise on the Power Plate machine. Not only will you strengthen your muscles, you will also increase cardio fitness, improve heart health, support bone health, improve balance, improve flexibility and simply move better. At Pilates Fitness the Power Plate classes are tailored to suit your ability and condition. You’ll be surprised at your increase in energy and vitality. Give it a try!
Exercise is one of the best tools we have to cope with the stress and anxiety of health concerns, no matter your age. Done regularly, it will help you handle life!