Keeping fit over fifty
As old age approaches, many people begin to slow down their pace of life and become much more sedentary than they were in their youth. It’s a common misconception that elderly people need to rest. Illnesses and ongoing health problems often become great excuses to stop being as physically active in old age; when in fact they’re actually a great reason to keep moving.
When we talk about exercising in old age we’re not talking about pensioners spending hours sweating it out in the gym; we’re simply talking about adding some extra movement and activity to your day in little ways.
The benefits of exercise for the over fifties
- Maintain or lose weight: Our metabolisms naturally slow with age so it can be a challenge to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise increases your metabolism, builds muscle mass, and burns calories.
- Reduce the impact of chronic illness: Exercise improves the function of the immune system, helping the body to fight off illnesses better. It also promotes better heart health, lowers blood pressure, improves bone density, and aids digestive functioning. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and heart disease is much lower in those who exercise.
- Improve flexibility and balance: Regular exercise helps to improve your strength, flexibility, and posture, which in turn will help to improve your balance and coordination, thus reducing the risk of falls.
- Improve quality of sleep: Many people assume that poor sleep is an inevitable part of aging, but exercise can help you to fall into a deeper sleep more quickly, which is beneficial for your overall health.
- Boost mood and self confidence: The endorphins that your body produces during exercise can help to alleviate feelings of sadness or depression, while the physical strength you’ll gain from exercise will help you to feel more confident.
- Boost brain function: Regular exercise helps to boost brain activity, which can help to prevent memory loss and dementia, and may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fitness tips for the over fifties
If you’ve not been active for some time then it can be difficult to know where to start, but we’ve got some tips to help you:
- Seek medical advice: Before starting a new exercise regime it’s always advisable to speak to your GP. He or she will be able to advice you of any activities you should avoid, i.e. things that will interfere with your existing health conditions and medication.
- Start slow: Build up your exercise program gradually to prevent injury. Perhaps start with one exercise class per week, or a daily walk, increasing the time as your fitness improves. Make sure you warm up gently before exercise and keep yourself properly hydrated.
- Commit to a schedule: For the first few weeks make sure you schedule your exercise sessions into your diary and stick to them. Encourage a friend to join you and you may see better results if you spur each other on.
- Set short term goals: Setting small goals can help you to stay motivated. Things such as improving your mood or boosting your energy will be more noticeable and achievable than long term goals like weight loss.
- Listen to your body: Exercise should never hurt or make you feel poorly, so if it does then make sure you stop. If you feel dizzy, short of breath, break out in a cold sweat, or develop any sort of chest pain or shortness of breath then stop exercising and see your doctor for advice.