REGULAR physical activity improves physical and mental functions, as well as reverses effects of chronic disease to keep senior citizens mobile and independent.
Despite the much-publicised benefits of physical activity, the overwhelming majority of senior citizens do not meet the minimum physical activity levels needed to maintain health.
The sedentary lifestyle that predominates in old age results in premature onset of ill health, disease and frailty.
The government, private sporting clubs, state associations, non-governmental organisations and religious bodies must promote physical activity, provide social support and impart self-regulation skills to senior citizens.
It is important to ensure that senior citizens aged 60 and above are in fine health and have a good quality of life to improve their life expectancy.
For men in Malaysia, the current life expectancy is 72.5 and for women, it is 77 years.
Sufficient and regular physical activity promotes functional health and delays or prevents non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, which are on the rise among the ageing population.
I have seen private clubs like the Royal Sungai Ujong Club in Seremban and many other clubs across the country play a pertinent role in organising sporting activities.
One such activity is line dancing, where senior citizens who are members of the club do their daily routine exercises and workouts led by an instructor. They are a happy lot and full of energy with a high level of camaraderie.
Sporting activities such as brisk walking can improve senior citizens’ physiological and psychological wellbeing. They can even compete in age group marathons after obtaining their doctor’s health fitness clearance.
It is good to see that with lifestyle changes and medical advances, senior citizens can celebrate longevity. A classic example is Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who at 93, still cycles to keep healthy.