It’s never too late to get into shape – in fact, the advantages of fitness are often more apparent in later life. Ageing increases the risk of developing health conditions as our bodies begin to slow down.
Without actively maintaining fitness and strength, day to day tasks can become increasingly difficult to carry out. A sedentary lifestyle in later life can produce major health implications, affecting everything from our bones, mobility and even eyesight.
It’s recommended that people over 65 should aim to spend 150 minutes on exercise each week, there are ways to stay fit no matter your age or ability. We have noted fun and different ways stay active as you age.
The Importance Of Diet
A healthy and balanced diet goes hand in hand with keeping fit. Food is what we use to fuel our bodies so eating the right types will give us with the energy needed to be active.
A poor diet can have emotional effects as well as physical, with studies highlighting a link between improvements in depression and anxiety when better eating habits are introduced. Changing the way you eat, opting for a more balanced and nutritional menu can help you avoid bad moods, lethargy, aches, pains and low energy levels.
Eating healthy simply begins with being more mindful, this can mean taking a little more time to consider the types of foods you are purchasing, the size of your portions and keeping an eye out for consuming too much of a particular food group.
Types of Exercises
To get the most out of your exercise, you’ll want to stick to activities which increase your heart rate but are also low impact. High impact sports and exercise require some recovery time, therefore, a person may not be able to consistently do them. As consistency is key for fitness in later life, it is recommended that people over the age of 65 do activities which are considered low – moderate intensity, these types of exercises can be completed regularly and safely.
As you build your strength you can slowly work your way up to more intense exercises for a longer duration of time, challenging yourself as your body gradually adjusts to the change. Many people are surprised at how quickly activities they once struggled with now require little effort and energy, however, it’s always best to consult your GP before increasing your activity levels.
Increasing the number of steps you take in a day is a great way to improve your fitness levels without much planning or the need for any specialist equipment. Brisk walking is the best way to get your heart rate going, it involves walking at a faster pace than you typically would.
Walking exercise can be completed in a number of locations, a 15 minute brisk walking around your garden in the morning can help get your muscles warmed up for the day ahead, combine exercise and leisure by walking around and taking in the beauty of your local parks.Community walking clubs are also a superb way to socialise while you exercise, group exercise can help encourage and motivate you.
Exercises you can complete in your home are excellent as they allow you to keep active whilst remaining comfortable. Regular at-home exercises can improve your strength, flexibility, and stamina. Pieces of the furniture in your home can be utilised as tools to aid your activity and the weight of your body for resistance.
Exercises completed from sitting positions improve many aspects of your fitness including posture and back strength. Sitting exercises use the muscles in your upper body and work wonderfully for people with existing mobility issues.
An example of a sitting exercise:
Upper Body Twist
- Seated on upright on a 4 legged chair, place your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms and place your hands on your shoulde
- Using your upper body turn your torso left as far is can go, never twist so far it becomes uncomfortable.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat.
The upper body twist can help you build and maintain strength in your back and shoulders.
Standing is important for health, it encourages good circulation in the lower half of your body, with some studies indicating that standing for periods of the day can reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, and metabolic conditions.
An example of a standing exercise that can improve your fitness levels:
- Standing up, position your feet hip-width apart, placing your arms on either side of you.
- Slide your left arm downwards towards the floor. Never slide so far it becomes uncomfortable.
- Repeat this move using your right arm on the opposite side of your body.
Heavy Gardening – This is an enjoyable at home activity that can also be counted towards your daily activity. Heavy gardening can be used as a form of resistance training without the need for high spec gym equipment.
Moderately large and heavy pots can be used as a substitute for weights, helping you build strength as you pretty your garden.
Exercising in water is a fantastic way to keep fit as you age, water provides relief during exercise, as less stress will be placed on your joints. People will often find that they are able to complete more activities in water for longer durations -so much so, water exercise provide pain relief for people with arthritis
We’ve listed some water exercises that are enjoyable and help you maintain fitness:
Swimming – Swimming laps raises heart rate and provides an overall work out for your body, strengthening your lungs and heart in the process. Your local leisure centre will likely have swimming sessions for different ability levels.
Water Aerobics – Water aerobics uses dancing to get your heart pumping, these sessions typically last between 45-60 minutes, 2 water aerobic sessions a week would put you well on track to hit the goal of 150 minutes of exercise.
Water Balance Exercises – A high number of people over the age of 65 have falls and accidents, many falls are due to poor balance, the injuries sustained from falls can greatly affect mobility for years to come. Water balance exercise such as water Yoga and Tai Chi can help you improve your balance, the water will provide support whilst you build strength and control. These types of classes are very useful in helping older people maintain independence and are also brilliant for well-being and relaxation.
Adding simple exercises to your daily routine can have a lasting impact on your health as you age.Once the change is adopted, increased physical activity will just become a normal thing to do. Many people are motivated to keep up their fitness routine as they recognise the change in themselves – better moods, and increased physical strength can give a person confidence and a new vivaciousness for life. The long-term benefits of fitness for older people are extensive, exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way in warding off degenerative diseases such as dementia, reduces the risk of medical conditions that lead to stroke such as hypertension, and limits the risk of falls and subsequent mobility issues.
The Good Care Group is a Live-in care provider rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. We provide excellent care, support and companionship to help you continue to live safely and comfortably in your home. Find out more about live-in care by The Good Care Group by visiting / or contact us on 020 3728 7575.