Keeping active, fit and healthy can become increasingly challenging as you grow older. Your body’s natural ageing process, coupled with years of hard work and physical activity, can have an impact on your strength and mobility, but that doesn’t make exercising any less important.
Staying active helps to prevent obesity, heart disease and strokes as well as many other potentially fatal illnesses. It also increases your lifespan, has many social benefits and reduces the risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
It may seem hard to imagine how to stay fit in later life, but staying active doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym as if you were training to run a marathon. The NHS recommend that over-65s do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. Simple things like fast walking or pushing a lawnmower count as moderate exercise, meaning there is a wide variety of things you can do to get the amount of exercise you need.
Here is a selection of enjoyable ways to keep active when you’re over 65:
One of the most popular ways for over-65s to keep active is aqua aerobics. It is a great, safe way for those in later life to get exercise, as there is no risk of trips or falls and the water prevents participants form overheating. The density of the water allows for easier mobility, meaning that even those with conditions such as arthritis, obesity and other conditions that limit mobility are able to do it.
It has numerous health benefits. The added buoyancy and water resistance that comes with performing aerobics in the water means you use muscle groups that you wouldn’t normally use when performing aerobics on land, helping to strengthen more muscles and acting as a better cardio workout. It also helps to reduce blood pressure; it burns body fat, and improves flexibility.
It is done in shallow water so you don’t need to be able to swim to do it, and you can even use a flotation device if you lack confidence in the water. There is a range of different water aerobics classes, such as Zumba and water yoga, which are done to music, making them good fun to take part in, too.
Walking football has been a revelation in recent years, inspiring senior footballers to dust off their boots and get back to playing the game they love, just at a slower, safer pace. It is designed specifically for the over-50s to be able to play, with the rules designed to keep it safe for all its participants. Teams are 5-a-side, and games are literally played at walking pace, with players conceding a free-kick if they are caught running. It is non-contact, and the ball can not be played over head height, keeping it safe for those with physical weak spots.
Walking football also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes, as well as improving blood pressure, posture, balance, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. The Walking Football Association even organises yearly tournaments divided into age groups, including a group for over-65s, ensuring that taking part remains competitive.
As well as 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, the NHS also recommended that you spend some time doing strength exercises twice a week. Strength exercises include things like weight lifting, sit-ups and push-ups, but also everyday things like carrying heavy groceries and gardening.
A good, fun way for over-65s to get these strength exercises is yoga, as it is safe and incorporates gentle exercises. It is an ancient spiritual practice that dates back as far as the fifth century, that comprises of gentle exercises with a focus on meditation and breath control. It helps to lower blood pressure and improves posture and circulation. It is taught in classes that are separated by skill and experience level, from beginners to advanced practitioners, meaning it is suitable for all ages and all fitness levels. Classes are typically kept small too, so that the teacher can pay close attention to each individual participating, and help them to improve their execution of the exercises.