Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Stay active, pensioners urged

Hawke's Bay residents who want to make the most of their twilight years should do more vacuuming and gardening, the Health Ministry says.

Initiatives to keep pensioners healthy for longer were published in a 62-page report by the Health Ministry this week.

Recommendations included dancing, housework, playing with grandchildren and kapa haka.

Hastings and Districts Grey Power secretary Marie Dunningham said tai chi and walking were popular forms of exercise among locals.

"They frequently walk to the library and carry four, five or six books home in their bags."

Ms Dunningham urged people to practise healthy living from a young age.

"Healthy old-age is bought by a long history of making healthy choices. I think the problem is the ones that get to old age unhealthy have been practising being unhealthy for a very long time."

According to Statistics NZ estimates, about 611,400 Kiwis were aged over 65 last year. Around 24,900 lived in the Hawke's Bay region.

Health Ministry chief medical officer Dr Don Mackie stressed the importance of keeping healthy through the years to get more out of life, while also keeping burgeoning costs on the public health system in check.

"People are living longer - and we want to see that those years are spent in good health.

"Healthy, active, older people are able to make positive contributions to whanau, communities and wider society for longer."

Research showed regular exercise reduced the risk of stroke and heart disease, according to the Health Ministry report. It could also assist in management of conditions like arthritis, depression and type 2 diabetes.

Dr Mackie said any activities which increased breathing and heart rates helped. Everyday activities like gardening and carrying shopping bags all counted.

Ideally, people would be adding in activities that promoted flexibility and balance, such as stretching and golf, he said.

He recommended exercise be carried out five times a week in 30-minute lots. Walking, cycling, swimming and playing with grandchildren were all beneficial.

A healthy ageing population would also benefit New Zealand in the long-term.

"Like health systems around the world, we face significant challenges in responding to an ageing population.

"We want to help older New Zealanders stay active, independent and prevent illness, rather than focusing only on treating ill-health."

Living longer - recommended exercise for 65-plus

  • Bowls

  • Modified tai chi

  • Water aerobics

  • Washing the car

  • Pilates

  • Stair climbing

Source: Ministry of Health

- Hawkes Bay Today

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