Pensioners urged to push play

Stair climbing Rotorua residents out 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 last week.

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

Rotorua Grey Power president Rosemary MacKenzie said tai chi, gardening and walking were popular among elderly locals.

"The ladies of us - of course - keep healthy by doing the housework.

"It can be strenuous, especially when you have to reach high for the cobwebs."

Mrs MacKenzie urged people to practise healthy living from a young age.

Many people who did not look after themselves in their younger years struggled with health problems at an older age, she said.

Statistics New Zealand estimates about 611,400 Kiwis were aged over 65 last year. Around 46,900 lived in the Bay of Plenty 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."

Rotorua's Cherie Duncan attends weekly Zumba classes at Parksyde Older Person's Community Centre and said it helped her get through the week.

"I told my doctor it was like a tonic. After I come to Zumba I have a new lease on life. It gives you so much more energy. I'm always dancing around after I've been to Zumba," she said.

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. And everyday activities such as 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 great, he said.

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

"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."

Physical activity combined with good nutrition was a key contributor to healthy living and would help in preventing and managing certain chronic conditions, said Dr Mackie.

Living longer - recommended exercise for 65-plus

  • Bowls

  • Modified tai chi

  • Water aerobics

  • Washing the car

  • Pilates

- Rotorua Daily Post

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