Never Too Old to Move

When Aerobics burst onto the scene, back in the 80’s it gave rise to exercise classes springing up all over the Country. My friends and I rushed to take part, signing up for daily sessions. I loved it so much that I decided to become an Instructor. I made a promise to myself that I would carry on for as long as I enjoyed teaching and 34 years later I still love it as much. There wasn’t the huge variety then that there is now, classes would be either Keep-Fit, Aerobics or Over 50’s, with the odd Yoga thrown in too. In my early twenties, over 50 seemed incredibly old and I only ever taught that class if I was asked to cover for another Instructor. 50 has now come and gone along with the realisation that it is truly not old at all. Over the last decade I have seen those classes renamed to Active Seniors or Silver Steppers, less blatantly ageist, but as I and my peers get older and reach that category, I wonder do we really have to categorise ourselves?
I have never set an end date on exercise but I accept that there may be other types of class that may be more beneficial as our energy and bodies change. Age may bring limitations and there may be modifications required or a shift in direction, but predominantly the key factor is that we keep moving. I do not feel that I need to avoid certain exercises yet, nor do I feel my energy declining but I am sure there is a natural slowing down over time. But do not make this an excuse to avoid keeping yourself fit. There may be health obstacles that were not there in younger days but the advantage of the present is that there is a vast market out there, all designed to help people live their best life.
At any age there is a requirement to exercise, my generation have grown up with the emphasis being Studio based Workouts and going to the Gym but there are so many other ways that you can keep strong and mobile. It is even more important that you continue to remain active over the age of 65. It can help stop existing health problems getting worse and also reduce the risk of developing new ones. Studies have shown (in the over 65’s) that those who regularly exercise are healthier and are less likely to get serious long term health conditions, than those who don’t. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of getting; high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and back pain. Strengthening and toning your muscles can mean you are less likely to fall and hurt yourself. It isn’t only the physical benefits you should consider, it also helps with your brain, how well it works and memory, your sense of wellbeing, self-esteem and independence.
So how much exercise should this age group be getting, well you should aim to be as active as possible. Always start gradually and build up, try increasing the amount of steps you take a day. A great way to monitor this is by buying a smart watch that will count your steps for you even track your heart rate etc. So what sort of things should you be doing? Regardless of age I always say to people, make sure you enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it then it becomes a chore and you are more likely to give up. Muscles lose strength as we get older but it is possible to limit how much strength we lose. This doesn’t necessarily mean lifting heavy weights; there are many other ways to get the same effect. Try a Pilate’s class; this uses slow movements which will boost the strength of some of the major muscle groups, or head to a Yoga class. Always check with the instructor as there will be different levels and you should be directed to one of your ability. Try swimming or water aerobics, these are great exercise to help maintain muscle mass and strength whilst being low impact. Go for regular walks; look at joining a walking group many offer beginners routes to get you started. Look at local Fitness Instructors as some will run bespoke classes for this age group, chair aerobics/dance is a great one for anyone needing to stay seated. With all age groups fitness levels vary from one person to another and whilst some older people are still running marathons, others may find it hard to get out of a chair. Health conditions can stop you being active but don’t assume you cannot do anything at all. Speak to your GP about what is safe for you to do and plan how you can help yourself to become more active. For many it is never too late to start exercising
* Always seek medical advice before starting anything new *
Linder X
Linder Porter is a fully trained fitness instructor & provides over 11 fitness classes each week
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