Wellbeing Week: How to Stay Active as a Senior Citizen

Mental health means different things at different points in a person’s life. Here, we share tips to help older people support their mind by moving their body.


Mental health means different things at different points in a person’s life. Here, we share tips to help older people support their mind by moving their body.

Wellbeing Week: How to Stay Active as a Senior Citizen

This month sees the return of Wellbeing Week – the Mental Health Foundation’s third annual fundraiser designed to help young people manage their mental health.

We think it’s a brilliant initiative – but here at Bluebird Care Gosport, we know all too well that being young is only the start of looking after your mind and body.

In truth, mental health means different things at different points in a person’s life. So, in this post, we’ve decided to share our experience supporting the wellbeing of people who are further along in their journey.

Stay Active as You Get Older: Quick tips

There’s a lot to be said about the importance of staying active the older you get. But we realise it’s easier said than done. Physical health issues can have a debilitating effect on an older person’s mental health, but the reverse is also true when they gradually begin to get more exercise. Sometimes, all it takes is a helping hand to build their confidence.

We’ve listed these tips to staying active when you get older with that in mind. So, whether you’re reading for yourself, or to find out how you can help a loved one, there’ll be something for you to take away and, well… run with!

Begin with what you want to achieve

As we mentioned in our blog on living healthy and staying connected, starting something just because you think you should is a quick way to lose motivation. When that happens, you can end up dropping it altogether. So, our first tip to staying fit when you get older is therefore to be purposeful and specific about why you want to be more active.

For instance, saying you want to “exercise to live longer” might sound great, but it’s too general; the benefits aren’t tangible. After all, you could live a long time anyway! But being fit enough to walk the dog with the grandkids when they visit… that’s a much more compelling reason, and more likely to inspire you to keep going with it – even on those off days you when you don’t feel like leaving the house.

Be realistic about your body’s limits – and be kind to yourself about them

When you’re younger, energy and vitality come naturally and it’s easy to keep pushing yourself to greater heights in everything you do. At a certain point, however, people start to slow down. If you’ve previously gotten a lot from pushing your limits, it can be difficult to feel like you’ll never be as fit or strong as you once were. This can even lead to a “what’s the point” mindset that’s bound to see you sink back into a more sedentary lifestyle.

Our second tip to staying active when you get older is therefore to accept your body’s limitations and set some realistic goals around them. Frustration is a normal part of the process, but pushing past it (often with a little outside help and encouragement) can make the journey all the sweeter.

Start small

A lot of pensioners worry that exercising regularly will put them at risk of falling and hurting themselves. That might be true if you try to do too much too soon – but as we’ve already discussed directly above, you’re managing your expectations… right?

If so, then you’ll want to treat each activity as a stepping stone to the next. Our early-stage tips to staying fit when you get older include:

  • Get on your feet more at home. Just doing some chores and tidying the house thoroughly can get you moving more than you otherwise might do. And once the house is tidy, why not move outside and see what needs doing in your garden?
  • Try some stretches or seated yoga. It might make you feel silly to begin with, but there are plenty of short videos on YouTube that can take you through basic, senior-friendly twists and holds that can wake your body up like it hasn’t been in years. (As the people in the video above will tell you!)
  • Go for a short daily walk if you’re able, going at a comfortable pace. (You can always speed up over time). Not sure how far you can manage? Arrange to go with a friend or carer each day, and plan a route with a bench or two along the way where you can rest if you need to.
  • Take a relaxing swim. Swimming is great for both your muscles and airways, and in lane swimming sessions there is always a slow lane where you can your time to enjoy the simple feeling of opening up your arms and legs and flowing through the water unhindered.

Make active plans with friends

By this step, you’ll have built a little bit of confidence and might feel ready to push yourself a little bit more. When you do, you’ll want to pull a little bit of the advice from all three steps together.

For instance, if you decide to go to a dinner and dance (COVID-permitting!), your target could be to make it through three songs in a row without sitting down – and get better at the steps as you do it! You may have days where you can only make it through one or two before taking a rest – but if you’re kind to yourself, you’ll soon be back up and on the dance floor. And of course, you’ll have your friend(s), carer or both there to support you – which is a truly lovely feeling; especially when they see how much progress you’ve made!

In that respect, the importance of staying active the older you get can be measured in not just how fit you’ll feel, but how much richer your personal connections will become because of it. And that’s something that everybody could do with, at any age.

Work on your balance with a weekly class

Earlier on, we mentioned the worry about falling – but you can lessen this if you work on having better balance. You could find the chair yoga gradually leads you towards that way anyway if you’re exercising at home. But if you want to guarantee you stay motivated, our last tip for staying active when you get older is to commit yourself mentally, emotionally and financially to a class, and follow through.

It doesn’t have to be yoga, either. Both Tai Chi and Qi Gong are great for improving your balance and helping you breathe better. Their slow, rhythmic, purposeful movements can even help combat anxiety. So, what are you waiting for?

Do you or a loved one need help getting active?

At Bluebird Care Gosport, we offer a service called ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ where our carers will work with you or your loved one to build a personalised care plan, and offer regular in-person encouragement and support.

If you think that could help you – or help someone you care for – then please do get in touch.