As you age, taking care of your health, your strength and your balance can provide the difference between living a fulfilling and mobile life or slowing down earlier than you might like. So we asked over-60s health expert, Jane Kilkenny to give her top five fitness facts and tips for people in their 60s and beyond.
Being fit, healthy and strong is the best health protection we have and it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s never too late to start! After all, age is just a number and we all need to focus on being healthy throughout our lives.
Being fit and strong allows us to get the most out of every experience life has to offer. Whether that’s our everyday tasks or taking an adventure holiday, life is more fun when you are fit, and ensures you’ll knock over those daily tasks in no time.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to “slow down” as you get older. That’s a foolish concept and made to make us feel that we get more fragile with each birthday. Sure, we might have a few more aches and pains as the years pass but there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t continue to be fit and strong, it just takes a bit more effort and good programming.
Too many people allow the best in life to pass them by as they get older, believing in the stereotypical ideas of ageism and needing to “take it easy”. Why on earth would that be a good idea, unless of course you want to age more quickly and be bored with life. Forget that.
There is one piece of advice here worth mentioning: don’t act like you are still in your 20s when it comes to your exercise routine. I’ve seen plenty of people make that mistake! It usually results in some very sore muscles or the odd injury, so challenge yourself but get some advice first, so you get the results without the issues.
Lifting weights is now recognised as one of the most essential forms of exercise across your lifespan and has been included in the latest World Health Organization (WHO) activity guidelines. If you have never participated in strength exercises or set foot in a gym, you need to think about changing that as a priority for your health.
Strength training improves your physical wellbeing, skeletal health and joint function. But the kicker is really in the cognitive function and mental health benefits that it provides. So in terms of the best value for your time, it’s far better to get some strength training every week as opposed to going for another walk or round of golf.
The key to success is getting the right professional advice. Like everything in life, when it comes to your health there is no “one size fits all” plan and it’s best to find an experienced professional to design your program. Look for someone who has the appropriate qualifications and experience; they should be registered and insured with the appropriate industry body.
A healthy lifestyle is the best anti-ageing weapon we have, so make the most of it and focus on enjoying every day. The best news is that it’s never too late to start, even if you’ve never been a fan of sport or exercise. Being fit and healthy is something we can never take for granted and it remains in our control to be healthy throughout our lives.
Positive lifestyle changes are possible at any age, you just need to make the commitment and get started. Remember that small steps still get you to the destination, so you don’t have to make it an all-or-nothing proposal. This is such a common mistake and one that leaves us frustrated and feeling like a failure, just like going on another diet.
Exercise, incidental movement, healthy nutrition and relaxation are all crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Some days we will do really well, other days maybe not so well, but keep focused on the big picture and look at your whole week’s results. If you have done well for most of the week, be satisfied and think about adding some extra changes next week. Just stay focused on positive change.
Balance is significant for two reasons, first we need to find the right balance in our lifestyle. Second, we need to think about the actual concept of balance in our physical performance, because the risk of falling can have a dramatic effect on the ageing process. So, let’s have a look at physical balance first because – like most aspects of our fitness – it does deteriorate with age, unless we actively train to maintain it.
Balance is one of those tricky things we usually ignore until we have an issue, often resulting in a broken limb or major tissue damage that requires lengthy rehabilitation. With the right exercise program, you can maintain good balance, have strong bones, joints and muscles and keep your body performing to its maximum potential.
Remember that old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it”? Well, it’s actually true when it comes to your fitness. If you don’t actively train your body to stay in good shape, the ageing process will accelerate, and you will be left feeling frustrated and old. But the good news is that you have the power to change your body at any age, so change your mindset and get to work!
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.