SHAPING UP: Don’t give up on health and fitness just because you’re getting older
As you get older, your body may not be as fit and efficient as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to give up on your health and fitness all together.
In fact, it’s even more important to stay fit and active so that you can maintain a good quality of life; physically and mentally.
At East Coast Fitness we’ve got lots of boot camp members, over 50 years old, keeping fit and having fun every week. Some of them are fitter now than they were in their 30s and 40s! It’s fantastic to see them all looking after their bodies and living a healthy lifestyle.
The advantages of regular exercise:
Regular activity not only improves joint mobility and increases physical strength and energy, but it can enhance sleep, cognitive function and help prevent illness and disease.
Exercise will also help with weight management, which is very important because as we get older we lose muscle mass and our metabolism slows down, meaning it’s easier to gain weight.
If you take part in group exercise, like boot camps or gym classes you’ll also benefit from the social side of it too.
How to stay fit after 50:
There is a greater risk of injury as we age because our joints are older and more fragile, but that doesn’t mean we can’t push ourselves. We might not be able to push ourselves as hard as we could when in our twenties but it doesn’t mean we have to stick to gentler forms of activity.
Ideally, a physical activity programme for people over 50 should include a combination of balance, stretching, cardiovascular, and weight-training.
It’s important to start out with an experienced personal trainer though so the programme can match the individual’s ability.
It might take longer to ease into gradually and you also have to take account of the fact that there may be some wear and tear on the joints so your reaction and recovery times may be slower, but as long as you have someone who understands all that you certainly can and should start exercising and can do it at any age.
Even if you can’t jump around with a barbell on you back, you may still be able to perform bodyweight squats or other lower impact alternatives. It’s all about knowing how far to push.
Whether you’re just starting a new programme, or you’ve been exercising all of your life, follow these tips to workout safely and effectively…
Warm up well - It takes longer to get your muscles working properly as you get older because the various systems take a little longer to fire up. So always perform a light five-minute warm up first, like a walk or jog.
Mix it up - Don’t keep doing the same thing day in day out. Change your routine regularly. If you lift the same weights or run at the same speed all the time you won’t get any stronger or fitter. Incorporate some interval training, combining high and low intensities, or classes into your fitness programme.
Don't cut it short - You need to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes, three times a week to reap any benefits. As you get fitter you can increase the time and frequency if you wish.
Work your core - As we age our core strength suffers, which can result in bad posture and a sore back, knees and hips. So, make sure you incorporate some core-strengthening exercises twice a week.
We have recently launched our Live Well programme for 50+ men and women, at East Coast Fitness. If you’d like to know more go to www.eastcoast-fitness.com/livewell