With the warmer weather of Spring well and truly upon us, there is no better opportunity to shake off those Winter blues and embrace the unique sense of renewal that comes with this time of year.
For many, this will mean taking the opportunity to clean and organise around the house and enjoy a little Spring cleaning, maybe even organise their wardrobe, this time of the year also serves as a perfect opportunity to reinvigorate your exercise routine.
If you’re over 60, regular exercise is crucial in maintaining your health and independence and ensuring you have the energy to do more of what you love, like playing with the grandkids. Not only does regular exercise help you maintain an active lifestyle, but it can help to decrease the risk of developing serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, while helping to lift your mood and improve your mental health as well as your immunity.
With all these incredible, life-changing benefits, it’s a surprise everybody isn’t rushing to the gym, and with the warmer weather of Spring with us, there is no better time to get out there and smash your fitness goals.
Prime Active Fitness Trainer & Clinical Psychologist, Penelope Lane says “we all have a spring in our step when we feel the warmth of the spring air. So the motivation to exercise is enhanced.”
“The mornings are lighter earlier so we’re less likely to roll over when the alarm goes off as we do in the colder winter months,” Lane said.
“Many people with joint difficulties like arthritis experience less pain and stiffness with the warmer weather. So this is another reason spring is a great time to get back into exercise.”
Fitness Expert and Owner of Stepz Fitness, Sam Waller shared similar sentiments, stating that Spring is a perfect time “to shake off from hibernation and get back on the move”.
However, before grabbing your new gym gear and water bottle and jetting off to the gym there are some important factors to consider in order to stay safe when embarking on your fitness journey, particularly as the weather begins to heat up.
Physiotherapist Team Leader, Jonathan Nashed with Bolton Clarke, a residential aged care provider, suggests that over 60s “start slow” when it comes to starting a new fitness routine or updating their old one.
“There’s no need to push yourself too hard. Please remember to stay hydrated and seek shade for recovery time. If it’s too hot you can complete some exercises indoors,” he explained.
“Stay safe and start slow, remember exercise can begin with just a 10 min walk each day.”
Lane also suggests “starting slowly” and “building up consistency over time” as the “best way to start a new exercise routine or get back into exercise”.
“Going for a brisk walk is a great go-to when you want to get your body moving in helpful and sustained ways. So you can help with any weight-related issues that have snuck up on you,” she said.
“And then increasing the distance and intensity- walking faster and including a few hills now and then is a great idea. Or maybe even a jog.
“Swimming, low impact aerobics, dancing, vigorous gardening, and cycling are also all good.”
When it comes to exercising as the heat sets in, Lane stresses that gym goers and exercise devotees should “drink lots of water before, during and after an exercise session”.
“This is because our circulation can slow as we age and water will help get rid of any build-up of waste products quicker, like lactic acid in the muscles. It’s also so good for our general health and well-being,” she explained.
Lane also suggested exercising “in the cooler times of the day” in order to beat the heat, such as “in the morning or in the evening”.
“Of course, if you are someone who likes going to the gym make sure you position yourself near the aircon outlets,” she said.
“Making sure to have sufficient rest to allow your body to readjust to the increase in body temperature that happens with exercise.
“You also need to sweat to dissipate heat, so wear clothes that allow you to sweat freely- loose-fitting clothing. And of course, wearing a hat and or sunscreen if you’re outside exercising.”
Waller highlights that it’s “important to consider the effects of extreme heat and ultraviolet (UV) radiation” when exercising.
“The type of exercise, timing and/or modifying the environment in which you are exercising are important considerations for both individual and group activities,” he said.
“Planning outdoor physical activities such as walking and outdoor sports for when temperatures are lower (early morning and late evening) will help lessen the risk of heat stroke.
“Timing at the end of the day may not be convenient for some, so solutions include the use of air-conditioned spaces and swimming pools.”
For those starting their health and fitness journey for the first time, the prospect of straining away at the gym or pounding the pavement for a quick jog may seem incredibly daunting, especially with the prospect of the glaring sun beating down on you.
For those new to exercise, Evolt 360 Education and Performance Specialist, Josh Wrigley states that “just because you are ageing doesn’t mean you won’t get the benefits of exercising”.
“You are never too old to start or get back into the swing of things,” Wrigley said.
His advice for getting going is to “start simple”.
“Every type of exercise has progression the more and more an individual gets comfortable with it,” Wrigley said.
“There are numerous ways to progress your exercise to ensure you are getting better! Don’t overcomplicate things! This progression will ensure all the beneficial adaptations of exercise as well as ensure proper recovery between sessions”
For those getting into an exercise routine or those returning after a long absence, Waller advises that “it is important to choose exercises that activate large muscle groups and provide functional benefits such as walking, cycling, rowing and swimming.”
“It is important not to rush into hard and fast workouts or exercise, instead you should gradually introduce it into your routine with the aim being to exercise 3-5 times per week,” Waller said.
“If long bouts of exercise are too strong, it is also fine to do small spurts to reach these goals. This can include going for a 15 minute walk in the morning and afternoon instead of 30 minutes of exercise all at once.
“Getting started is the hardest part. It’s okay to start off slowly and test out some different routines and exercises.”
Lane reminds those jumping into an exercise routine for the first time to “be mindful of choosing the right exercise intensity for you and the correct resistance strength.”
“Start slowly if you’re just coming back to exercise,” she said.
“Start with no weights- body weight is a great choice of resistance strength for beginners and can also be kept in your programs as your progress over time.
“You can gradually increase the intensity each week (greater size weight, more repetitions or sets). It helps greatly here to forget about what others are doing around you. Easier said than done, I know, but so essential so you can work productively with your workout.
“Awareness of proper form throughout the workout is very important. Executing each activity using muscles, posture, range of motion, and movements correctly.
“At the end of each session, stretching is crucial to assist with postural balance and recovery. Ensure you have enough time to go through a full range of stretches to increase your flexibility and work towards even reversing injuries.”
Knowing what to do at the gym and how to exercise safely is one thing but getting the motivation to jump off the couch and into the gym is another.
Psychotherapist Eugenie Pepper suggests “using positive habits to get motivated.”
“A tip to get motivated to work out and stay safe as the temperature gets warmer can be to get your hat, drink bottle and walking shoes out the night before so you have a prompt in the morning to get out and go for a walk or go to the gym,” Pepper said.
Pepper recognises that embracing a new health and fitness routine and changing ingrained habits can be tough. Therefore she suggests starting with “small changes that do not require too much motivation or effort to complete but can make a big impact on your life.”
“Small goals are more attainable,” she said.
“A small habit that is simple and easy to do daily, that does not require too much motivation to achieve and can easily become part of a person’s daily routine and are easier for us to turn into habits that can small snowball to support us to achieve and to build up to a larger goal habit.
“Once you get started on a new positive habit or pattern it changes the neural pathways in your brain to keep you going. Creating habits help you reach the desired goals you want.”
Wrigley recognises that “getting started is the hardest part”, therefore it is important to find “something you genuinely enjoy can help break that barrier that makes exercise seem intimidating or unenjoyable”.
“Find something you like doing with people you like to be around,” he said.
“Exercise doesn’t always need to be in a typical gym setting. For example, if you don’t like walking/jogging for your cardiovascular work join a bowling league or rowing club!”
Waller also believes that strength in numbers can equate to strength gains in the gym.
“You might find that training with a friend or Personal Trainer helps you to stay motivated and on track,” he said.
“It’s great to have company when training and you can support each other along the way. You just need to work with what feels best for you.”
Lane offers a final note on embarking on your fitness journey, whether it be for the first time or just simply adapting to the warmer weather, she stressed that “it’s important to chat with your doctor if you haven’t exercised for a while to check if there’s anything you need to be mindful of to keep yourself safe.”
“Especially if you have a health condition, (and chronic health conditions like Diabetes, Heart Conditions or any injuries that may be impacted by the wrong type of activity for you. And if you are on certain medications that may affect balance and coordination,” she said.
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.