Keeping fit means keeping younger

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Delay the ageing process, and feel better, by doing more exercise.

As we age, our muscles get weaker, we get more aches and pains, and we become more prone to falls and injuries. Exercise helps to slow this process.

Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and osteoporosis; lowers cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, and counters some cancers - particularly bowel cancer.

Regular exercise improves muscle strength, flexibility and stamina, memory and reasoning skills, quality of life and a sense of wellbeing.

With good muscle tone and weight control, joints are protected from arthritis.

You will look better, feel better and life will seem better.

What kind of exercise?

How much and what type of exercise you should take depends on your general level of fitness. 

Not everyone has the same level of fitness. Some over 60s run marathons while others can hardly get out of a chair.

People who have had serious medical problems should get their GP's advice before starting exercise.

The aim should be a minimum of 30 minutes moderate exercise at least five days a week. If you haven't exercised for several years start slowly for short periods and then gradually increase the intensity and duration.

For example, begin with a five minute stroll and increase the length of the walk and the speed at which you walk.

To give variety to your exercise regime, add cycling, bowling or swimming. 

Dancing is also good exercise and improves the sense of balance, reducing the risk of falls. Join a dance class for older people or simply put on some music you can dance to at home. 

Other activities that can improve your fitness include daily chores such as housework and gardening. Slowly increase the frequency and speed that you do them.

Remember though that it is important to have a period of rest after physical activity. Indeed, rest is important to our fitness and health.

What kind of fitness?

There are two main kinds of fitness.

Aerobic fitness 
This relates to the heart and lungs. You can deliver more oxygen to the muscles and heart if you are aerobically fit.

As you get older your aerobic fitness reduces, but you can improve it. Any activity that increases heart rate and breathing rate will increase aerobic fitness. These include walking, jogging, cycling and swimming - in short anything that makes you slightly breathless.

Strength 
Between the ages of 30 and 80 we lose 60 per cent of the strength in our muscles.

Any exercise that uses our muscles helps to reduce the rate of loss of strength.

Examples are carrying shopping, gardening. Or using some weights at the gym or in a class.

Pilates and yoga also help with strength as well as balance.

Start now

The sooner you start your exercise regime, the longer you will benefit.

Many health clubs now run classes for older people, taken by qualified trainers. As well as being good for your long term health and fitness, they can be great fun and a safe, comfortable place to meet new friends.

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