You don’t need to exercise as much when you’re older, right? – Wrong. Many think we require less exercise the older we get. But in fact, as we age, it’s vital to keep moving to maintain muscle and bone strength and to prevent our bodies becoming weak and frail.
Many put themselves at risk of poor health by avoiding exercise in later life. In our Living Longer piece, we also mentioned how we spend too much time being sedentary. Let’s live up to being “old and wise” and do the wise thing for our bodies. It’s never too late to start. The trick is finding something you enjoy!
So what’s the worry with working out?
As we get older it can become harder to keep motivated and feel confident when taking up new activities. Some feel they’re simply too old to be running about and that certain sports are for younger people resulting in feeling intimidated and unwelcome. But this is not the case. There are many sports for the older person to enjoy safely, cheaply and benefit greatly from. Whatever your ability, there’s something out there for everyone.
12 Motives to get moving:
There are so many reasons to get active especially for the 65+ age group. The NHS informs us of the importance of exercise in later life and how it can lower the risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and dementia – some pretty good motives to get moving. But if you need more convincing just see the other benefits below:
- Reduces the risk of diseases
- Maintains independence
- Improves strength and balance
- Improves overall psychological wellbeing
- Helps you recover from illness
- Increases bone density
- Prevents depression
- Lowers stress levels
- Improves your memory and alertness
- Allows you to make new friends
- Improves sleep
- Boosts mood and self-confidence
And remember, the more you exercise and move the longer you’ll be able to! Don’t take for granted the little things like being able to walk to the shops or play with the grandkids. It’s up to you to make sure you stay active later in life and allow yourself to keep your independence to do the things you enjoy with ease.
So what activities are out there?
It’s an old one, but a good one. It ticks all the boxes; competitive, social, active, therapeutic… Bowls is a great sport to get involved in with many clubs to join up and down the country. The objective is to roll balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a “jack”. Easy, right? Well, I’ll let you find out for yourself.
They say you never forget how to ride a bike – so let’s keep it that way. Studies show that regular exercise can reduce the risk of dementia and with cycling being a lot easier on the joints than running it’s a great activity to get you back into exercising. Whether you hop on the bike at the gym or head out into the country air, it’s a great way to keep fit! You could also join a cycling club and make some friends along the way. For some inspiration, check out Robert Marchand, the 105 year old Frenchman who rode 14 miles in an hour.
Strictly Come Dancing has fuelled our desire to get into dance. It’s one of the most enjoyable ways to keep fit and has so many health benefits. Whatever your style, be it tango, zumba, salsa, ballroom dancing, or maybe just the “cleaning- the-house” boogie. Whichever you choose, you’ll be getting the benefits of a great work out. It will help improve your coordination, agility and flexibility, your heart and lungs will be grateful for it and you’ll be generally stronger and happier.
Scenic, peaceful greens surrounded by nature. Why wouldn’t you chose golf as a way to keep fit? This relaxing sport is all about technique, so perfect for those who enjoy competition without the stress. But don’t be fooled by this slow paced game, you could burn more calories than going to the gym. A game walking around an 18-hole course could burn anything up to 1500 calories. It’s the ideal opportunity to meet new people and expand your social community as well as keeping fit.
Swimming is a great, full body work out. It’s also ideal for those who suffer from arthritis as the water supports the body’s weight which results in less impact on the joints, reducing the risk of pain. While strengthening and toning your muscles it is also a relaxing exercise and will help you get a good nights sleep (although that could be down to a dip in the hot tub after.) And if swimming lengths doesn’t take your fancy then there are plenty of different water sports to try out such as water polo and aqua aerobics.
If you like a little competition then this is the game for you! Tennis is a great physical work out and can be lots of fun too. Not only will it improve your general health, strength and agility it also provides a boost to your physiological health as, if you’re competitive with it, you’ll need to be alert and tactical so your brain gets a workout too. Stress levels will be reduced as you exert energy on the court and have fun, by really enjoying a sport you also reduce your risk of anxiety and depression.
Walking can work wonders. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep moving, all you need is some comfortable shoes and you’re good to go. Regular walks can improve your fitness, help with weight loss, strengthen your bones, improve your mood, and reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So next time you pop to the shops, leave the car at home and get those legs moving, it’s that simple. You could invite a friend or make new ones by joining a walking group. And if you want to take things to the next level perhaps look at Nordic walking.
If you used to play back in the day but feel you’re a little rusty now, then this is the game for you. Walking football has become increasingly popular for those who love the sport but perhaps have mobility problems holding them back. It’s just like 5 a side football but with one extra rule – no running. If you feel like getting back in the game then join a club and have all the benefits of walking, with all the fun of football.
Breathe in. And breathe out. Yoga focuses on your physical and mental wellbeing. A yoga work out will help you gain flexibility, strength and a clear mind. It’s safe for any age group and any level of fitness, you just need to find a class that’s right for you. Or if you prefer to work-out at home then there are plenty of yoga DVDs or online videos to get you started.
On your marks, get set, go!
Now you know the importance of sports in retirement and you’ve got plenty of activities to go and try out. So get out there and get moving!
Remember, retirement is about doing what you want, when you want.
So make sure you always can.