Let’s face it. When it comes to exercising most of us can think of about 100 things we’d rather be doing. Unfortunately, most of us also know that exercising, particularly in your 60s, is an important factor in feeling better, looking younger and living longer.
Staying active and having a good level of fitness in your 60s and beyond is important for so many reasons. Not only does it keep your body stronger and more resistant to disease and deterioration, it also has a profound effect on our minds and wellbeing.
The part where most people trip up is thinking they have to work out like a 20-year-old and push themselves to the limit to see results. Not true!
Our bodies have changed so much since we were in our 20s and 30s and so the way we exercise needs to change to. Over 60s need to be aware of risks like bone damage and muscle strain when working out, as they are more prone to these issues as they age.
So where to get started?
Bone health only becomes more important as you age. Women in particular are prone to bone mass density loss as menopause strips away much of the estrogen that keeps them strong. While most people think cardio is the best way to drop kilos and stay fit, experts say resistance and weight training work just as well and often even better.
Rather than lifting heavy weights though, over 60s should focus on using light weights or resistance bands to do exercises like bi-cep curls and leg pushes among others. Pilates is a great way to build core strength and tone muscles, while yoga will help stabilise your balance and strengthen your whole body.
You muscles often become less flexible and pliable as you age, which can affect your posture and bring on back pain and hip issues to name a few. While something like yoga can be a huge help in this area, you can also get results by doing some simple stretches at home every day. Stretching should never hurt, so if you feel a lot of strain in one area pull back until it’s comfortable. Things like ankle and wrist rotations, sitting down leg stretches, and arm stretches are all generally safe and easy to do.
Experts say it’s important to do a mix of cardio and resistance work for optimum results and benefits. Thankfully doing cardio in your 60s isn’t about running marathons — or even running at all! — it’s about moving your body enough to built up a good sweat and get the heart rate pumping.
It sounds simple, but it’s one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to work out. You can either jump on the treadmill at the gym or lace up your shoes and do a good 20-30 minute session around your neighbourhood. A lot of people say they get bored walking, but music is a great antidote. Use your smartphone or a music device to put on your favourite tunes and hit the streets with stride. Keep the pace brisk and really swing your arms to get the blood pumping.
Gliding through the water in the pool is one of the best exercises for over 60s as it’s easy on the joints and gives you a full body work out. Swimming works the lungs a lot so if you have health concerns around them, talk to your doctor first as they might have specific recommendations for you.
Do the twist! Or the shake, or the samba, or whatever floats your boat! Dancing has been proven to keep the mind and the body healthy and on top of that it’s one of the funnest ways to stay active. You can join a class or, if you’re being thrifty, put on your favourite music and dance around at home for 20 minutes. The beautiful thing about dancing is that it doesn’t matter if you pay for classes, if you’ve got the moves, or if you look like a fish out of water – you’ll still get a great work out and have fun. Sure you might feel a bit foolish dancing around your lounge room on your own, but once you see the results you’ll love it.