The baby boomers’ guide to getting started at the gym 31



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Did you know, only 17% of Australian men and 13% of Australian women over the age of 65 are sufficiently active?

Studies show that the main barriers for those not participating in physical activity are a perceived fear of physical risk or injury and a sense of “is it too late for me to start?”. In fact, physical activity can make you stronger – lessening the risk factor and decreasing the chance of injury.

Physical activity is vital for maintaining quality of life and independence in later life. At this stage in life, the preservation of muscle mass and protection of joints and bone mass become paramount. Many of the diseases associated with aging are caused by poor lifestyle choices including smoking, lack of exercise and obesity. Family history of diabetes, heart disease or cancer can also play a role.

Age related problems include:

  • muscle loss
  • deteriorating bone mineral density
  • weaker muscle strength and decline in aerobic fitness
  • increased difficulties with balance and flexibility
  • high blood pressure / cholesterol
  • increased risk of heart disease

Through eating a balanced diet and exercising the mind and body daily, you can help to lower the risk of chronic health problems. Regular checkups with your local GP combined with a healthy lifestyle will work to improve your quality of life and make even the simplest of tasks like getting out of bed, sitting and standing much easier.

If you’re thinking of joining a gym but don’t know where to start, here are some tips:

See your doctor

Before commencing any physical activity, it is important to consult your doctor to ensure you are aware of any conditions that need to be taken into account. This way you will be armed with a checklist before visiting your local gym – helping you and your personal trainer to gauge your physical abilities, target specific weaknesses and deal with any injuries.

Choose a gym that fits

In order to maintain motivation you have to be in the right environment. It is important to choose a gym that suits your needs, goals, personality and is practical for you to get to.

Get the low down

Speak to your club manager or personal trainer about receiving a tour of the club as well as a personalised exercise program tailored to your goals and physical aptitude. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – that’s what we’re here for!

Get the right gear

Having the right exercise attire can make a huge difference to your motivation and training. Ensure you are wearing comfortable clothing and have the right shoes for walking or running to absorb the shock one your joints.

Get started

Start slowly. Go at your own pace and progress accordingly. As you get older your body needs to ease into exercise slowly, so a warm up and down is essential. Engage a personal trainer to show you how to warm up and down properly and how to stretch to increase flexibility. A personal trainer will also be able to teach you proper technique and execution of each exercise to avoid injury and maximise the benefits for a smarter workout.

Regular physical activity is good for the mind, body and soul and will not only add years to your life, but life to your years.


Tell us, do you have a gym membership? If so, how often do you go? If not, why not? What other activities do you do?

Fiona Douglas

Fiona Douglas is based at Jetts Coolum on the Sunshine Coast and is dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives through her work in the health and fitness industry. Visit to learn more.

  1. I still play tennis and try and walk 30 – 40 minutes a day, plus all the walking us women do around the house doing our daily chores

  2. I dont need a gym to walk in the sunshine or be active. But then I am a bit if a loner, hate exercising in public.

  3. I found this a very interesting & informative article. I am 60 and am having early problems with bone mineral density. I assumed that a Gym was a place for the young ones to hang out in. I will investigate further.

    1 REPLY
    • There is strength training for the elderly , check with your council or doctor
      Ido it twice a week

  4. I joined a gym a few years ago but didn’t last the distance. It would be my idea of what Hell would be like. One female assistant helped me but the men ignored me. There was times I needed help but it wasn’t forthcoming so I did what I could. It was before I Pods were common so they had TVs on all over the place. The sound was turned down but I didn’t wish to watch soap operas anyway, but what was worse they played modern music full blast all the time. One day, I persuaded them to play some Beetles music and it was terrific to work along with. Now my body has deteriorated to the extent I couldn’t get up the stairs to the gym even if I tried and I can’t reach my feet to put on trainers, so I use an exercise bike and a walker. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a ‘joiner’.

  5. Would never go to a gym. Plenty of things to do at home for exercise, if my body was able to

  6. Surprise surprise, and it’s not like they could be in shed loads of pain with various physical problems and unable to do a road runner impersonation daily or give it a serve at an expensive gym. I can’t imagine why stats are so poor!

  7. The use it or lose theory is exactly what happens to the human body—– need to do some form of resistance training and double your heart rate and break out in a sweat.

  8. The gym is my second home, love it, love it .. anyway have been working out since 1981 was a fitness instructor too.

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