I was reading an article a few months ago: Over 40 and fitter than ever: a grown-up guide which claimed there is a massive push towards regular exercise by people 50 and above. Although this was a British article the findings are impressive none-the-less. “According to Sport England, the strongest increase in sports participation in the past decade has been among the 45-54 age group; a rise of 41 per cent since 2005-06. And 3.4 million over-55s now take part in sport on a weekly basis, up 28 per cent since 2005-06”
Regular exercise has a multitude of positive benefits for anyone, no matter their age. Being physically active can help you stay independent for longer. It also lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Exercise enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance, improves your strength and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls. It can make you look and feel younger, boosts self confidence and is also a great way of maintaining or losing weight.
Regular, moderate physical activity can also help manage stress and improve your mood. And, being active on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information. It also improves sleep.
Don’t feel like going for a 20km hike? Well, you don’t have to!
30 minutes of cardio-type exercises a day is recommended, this includes walking, cycling and swimming. You do not have to do 30 minutes straight of exercises, you can split it up into more manageable lots if you need to.
Strength training is important, not just to build muscle, but it also helps prevent loss of bone mass and improves balance – both are important to reduce the risk of falls. Two to three strength/resistance training workouts a week will provide the greatest benefits. You can either use just your body weight or add weights if you want to.
Stretching is vital to an exercise regimen. This helps muscles warm up and cool down gradually and improves and maintains flexibility, prevents injury, and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness. Activities like Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates are also great for increasing flexibility and improving muscle tone.
Where do I start?
The great thing is – exercising doesn’t have to cost you a thing. All you need is a bit of motivation to start! Exercising can be as simple as walking around the block each day, you can go to a gym or there are plenty of community groups who offer exercise classes.
If exercise classes might sound like your ‘thing’ Age Concern could be your first port of call as they offer a wide variety of classes.
Take a look at other community groups here on Eldernet who offer exercise classes.
There are also a range of other services on Eldernet that can assist you with getting fit, these include a range of equipment you may find useful including compression gear and mobility aids. There is also a range of professional services including physiotherapist and home based support who are able to assist you on your fitness journey.
So go on! Or as Nike says: ‘Just do it!’