Here is proof you’re never too old to exercise

Jan 07, 2016

I recently sold the car and now walk or bicycle where I want to go when I can. Since I have spent time building up my strength I now exercise for two and half hours twice a week in the gym. People a third of my age (I’m 60) come into the gym and leave exhausted long before I have finished warming up.

It is possible to be of mature years and extremely healthy with exercise.

The great Ernestine Shepherd at 80 is a world champion body builder, but only took up body building in her late 50s.

Alan and Janette Murray-Wakelin ran a marathon a day around Australia for a year at 68 and 63 respectively.

Fauja Singh was still running marathons at 100 years old and he only took up running at the age of 89.

The world is divided into two sorts of people: those who look after themselves and those who expect others to look after them. The first kind make every effort to move heaven and earth to make sure their bodies are in good condition to help reduce disease and dysfunction. They have a regular exercise routine and stay with it diligently.

The second kind think exercise is for freaks who have little else to do. They don’t take the time to move and exercise their bodies on a regular basis. There is always an excuse: don’t have time, don’t feel like it, don’t see the point, and don’t believe it will make any difference to my health, and so on.

The reality is that the majority of people who exercise regularly – at least twice a week – tend to live longer, have better mobility, and reduce the likelihood of obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, hip displacements, cardiovascular disease, circulation problems, and strokes. Also the very process of exercise – along with a good diet – can help to reduce plaque in the brain (plaque is a sign that you may be at increased risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia).

With the body, the old maximum of “Use it or lose it” is as true as the sun is bright.

One of the most important effects of exercising on ageing is that it increases activity in the adrenal gland which produces a hormone called DHEA (didehydroepiandrosterone). Studies show this is the hormone of youth. In societies where people live to an old age in good health it has been found that they had higher levels of DHEA.

Which kind of person are you?

If you fall into the second category of those who do little to no exercise and you’ve got health issues, it comes back to the equation of what you put into life, you get out of it. If someone with no legs can become a marathon runner, a person with one arm can do weight lifting, and someone riddled with pain can get rid of that pain by getting their body into shape: What can you do?

There is no free lunch in the body department, especially when you’re over 60. Look after your body and it will last longer, allowing you to live a fulfilling life.

So, what can you do?

Exercise tips for over 60s:

  1. If you have medical problems, get the all-clear from your GP before starting a new exercise regime.
  2. Be sure to start slowly as you build your strength over many months.
  3. Look forward to exercise and don’t whinge!
  4. Always spend a lot of time warming up gradually.
  5. Do 20 minutes aerobic exercise to get your heart and lungs going.
  6. Do 20 minutes resistance exercise with weights to strengthen your muscles.
  7. Don’t use heavy weights.
  8. Use light weights but do lots of repetitions.
  9. Do 20 minutes stretching your body (yoga is great for this).
  10. Avoid overheating and make sure you drink lots of water.

Where to exercise?

  • Join a local gym. They often give discounted rates for seniors. If you get a trainer get someone near your own age because younger trainers tend not to understand older bodies.
  • Check out local yoga or pilates classes. The former is fantastic for stretching your body and the latter helps to strengthen it.
  • Are there any dance classes that may suit you and that you’d enjoy? Fun is important when exercising!

You may not want to run a marathon or become a bodybuilder, but regular exercise will go a long way to helping you celebrate and enjoy another new year.

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