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EXERCISE & OLDER ADULTS – It’s never too late to get started

We tend to get more sedentary with age. It is easily accepted that you slow down and contain your physical activity with the number of years. Many find excuses in health problem, weight or pain issues, or concerns about falling. Many think that they have never exercised before, so why now. But the fact is that staying active can help boost energy, maintain weight and independence, protect your heart and manage symptoms of pain and illness. Above all, it gives you a confident outlook of life. You feel sharper, more energetic and enjoy a greater sense of well being.

Starting or maintain a regular exercise routine is a challenge at any age. In your older years, you may be further discouraged due to health and confidence issues, or you may not know here to begin and whether it is right for you. Exercise in the older years is not just about getting to a gym, it could be something as simple as adding more movement and activity in your life. No matter what your age or physical condition is, there is always something you can do to get your body moving, boost your health and improve how you age.

Listed below are certain facts that can help address concerns of exercising as a senior:

  • Regular exercise or physical activity helps your look and feel younger besides making you stay independent longer. It also lowers your risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart diseases, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and obesity. Mood benefits of exercise are the same at 70-80 as they are when you were 20.
  • Regular exercise builds strength and stamina and prevents loss of bone mass improving balance.
  • When you age, there are inevitable changes in hormones, metabolism, bone density and muscle mass which mean that your strength and performance decline with age. With exercise you can improve your health on all scores. The key is to find what exercise works for you best. A sedentary lifestyle is more damaging on your abilities than biological aging.
  • Adults who take up exercise in later life show great mental and physical improvements. You are never too old to improve your health and wellbeing.
  • If mobility is an issue already, you can try adaptive exercises such as lifting light weights, assisted stretches, chair yoga or tai chi to increase your range of motion, all of which will help improve muscle tone and flexibility while promoting cardiovascular health.
  • When you move and engage your body in physical activity, you are better able to manage aches and pains, and improve strength and confidence. The key is to start off gently and stay consistent in your efforts.
  • When you get started, it’s important to do it safely. The first step is to get a medical clearance from your doctor. Address all your health concerns on what you should and should not do. Always listen to your body. Put your routine on hold if you feel any discomfort. Make adjustments to your exercise routine in consultation with a professional trainer. Start slow and build up steadily, even starting with a 10 minute walk twice a day is a good start. Commit to your routine 3-4 days a week at minimum and find activities you enjoy. Focus on how your body feels – the rhythm of your breathing, the flexing of your muscles, the way your feet touches the ground.

The right diet has immense impact on your energy, mood and fitness. Ensure you are eating a well balanced and nutritious diet and taking your medication on time. Stay hydrated. Incorporate meditation or a mindful practice for 10-20 minutes each day. Encourage friends or family to join in. Enjoy building a good quality of life whatever your age. Don’t allow numbers to stop you from leading a full life.

Sandesh Palungwa Limbu is a certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and also specialises in mixed martial arts. For answers to your fitness queries, write to him at ragefitness@live.com