Exercise in older age
Stay independent for longer and avoid falls

Exercise is important at every stage of life. For people over the age of 65, regular exercise not only supports their physical and mental health but also helps them maintain their functional abilities and thus remain independent for longer.

Regular exercise is healthy at any age. For the over-65s, an active lifestyle has a positive impact on the immune system, psychosocial conditions like anxiety and depression, cognitive ability, sleep and healthy body weight. It also lowers the risk of infectious diseases, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. At the request of the Federal Office for Sport (FOSPO) and the hepa.ch network, an Exercise recommendations guide has been produced setting out why exercise is so helpful for older people. The recommendations are also aimed at people with specific needs (e.g. sufferers of chronic illness), restricted mobility and disabilities. "It's never too late to start exercising, as people can get fit well into old age," explains Kimberly Zwygart, an exercise specialist at santé24.

Stay balanced to avoid falls

Older people are advised to do at least 150 to 300 minutes of endurance-based exercise each week. It should be of medium intensity, for instance walking at a brisk pace, cycling or working in the garden. If they are doing high-intensity activities like jogging, swimming or cardiovascular training on gym machines, however, they should do at least 75 minutes of exercise. They should also do muscle training exercises at a medium to high intensity on two or three days each week. This can include press-ups, exercises with elastic resistance bands or complementary daily activities such as climbing stairs.

Another positive side-effect is that a quarter of all falls or fall-related accidents can be avoided by engaging in activities that improve your balance. These include static and dynamic exercises like standing on one leg, motor-cognitive exercises like walking in a figure of eight or specific exercises such as squats that work the muscles in your feet, legs and core. Regular exercise in old age doesn't just have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. It also helps you maintain your functional abilities and thus remain independent for longer.

There's a form of exercise for everyone

What activities are there that make you get out of breath but don't necessarily make you sweat? Examples of medium-intensity exercise include hiking, everyday cycling, swimming, skiing, yoga, pilates, dancing, gymnastics, brisk walking, Nordic walking, aqua fitness and gardening.

Those seeking high-intensity activities that get you breathing harder and sweating a bit could try mountain hiking, vigorous cycling, vigorous swimming, ski/snowboard touring, snowshoeing, tennis, running, fitness training, football or cross-country skiing.

Early prevention: avoiding falls

As we get older, the risk of suffering a fall also increases. santé24 helps you to assess your own risk of falling and offers exercise and nutrition consultations on this topic. SWICA also supports many fall prevention services. For more information, see: Fall prevention – SWICA

Health promotion and preventive healthcare

With COMPLETA PRAEVENTA supplementary insurance, SWICA supports preventive healthcare and health promotion via exercise, nutrition and wellbeing activities with an annual contribution of 50% up to 500 francs or 300* francs per activity category.

*Click here for details of the contribution

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