Here is proof you’re never too old to exercise 16



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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.

Share your thoughts below.

Tracie O'Keefe

Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND is a clinical hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and sex therapist as well as a naturopath and nutritionist who takes a mind-body approach to health. Director at the Australian Health & Education Centre in Sydney, she has over 20 years’ experience helping thousands of people achieve optimum physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Tracie is the best-selling author of seven books on topics including sex, gender and sexuality diversity; self-hypnosis and natural health. On her YouTube channel she features health tips plus interviews with extraordinary people redefining expectations of themselves. In addition to running her clinic, Tracie is a speaker and trainer with a range of downloadable, digital self-help programs.

  1. I wish I could do more exercise than I do. How about looking into an exercise program for COPD sufferers. I’m sure there are many more on this site than lets on.☺

    5 REPLY
    • Find out about your local Pulmonary Rehabilitation class, they will teach you to exercise safely. Or if you don’t have a local class try they have a lot of resources for COPD, also the Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand,

    • Thanks Nita. I do lots of exercise from tai chi to weights and walking. Ive gone thepugh pulmonary rehab and physio. It just frustrates me that more is not done for these lung diseases. I will not just wait for it to happen. That’s why I try to bring attenrion to it. Regardless of whuch lung disease you have and how you got it, it should be given the same consideration as everything else. It is the 4th largest killer in this country.

    • Yes it is not pleasant to have any lung disease. I am fortunate to not have lung disease ( have type 1 diabetes). You sound as though you are working hard to maintain your health. I hope a successful treatment for COPD is found soon to give you better health!!

  2. Goodness – I googled “Ernestine Shepherd” after she was referenced in the above article, and I found this YouTube video about her … jeez, I’ve gotta get to the gym, starting running and stock up on egg whites! 🙂 See:

  3. I gave up my gym membership because I got bored! Been going to gyms for about 35 years. Now go to Pilates and get a lot of exercise on my farm. I can still climb steep hills and stairs if I need to.

  4. As a personal trainer, I work for 7 years with a lady with COPD. It’s all about finding alternatives but still trying to increase lung capacity. And slow down when breathing becomes laboured. Working out all help keep things working. The trouble with most people is that they think it is all too hard or they don’t want to get sweaty. The more you move the more you move. Functional exercises are paramount. Being able to walk, twist, lunge, pull, push and squat ensures safe movement through life. E.g reaching to get something from the cupboard twisting round to put it on the bench. I enjoy at least 4 sessions a week of Crossfit. And taking the dog for a walk and the occasional bike ride.

  5. In my town(and lots of others)we have a great program for older people, all set for each individual and at a reasonable cost. Can do 3 sessions a week. I started going because of spinal damage causing moderately severe sciatica. The pain has improved markedly and it helps keep my diabeties under control. I’m fitter than I was 20 years ago. We also have people with arthritis, some who have had strokes, some who have had joint replacements and some just plain frail. We all enjoy it and have a lot of fun…Oh one of our fittest is well over 80.

  6. if you get bored at the gym you are not working hard enough–cycle & pump classes will get those muscles which haven’t been used for years slowly into some kind of working order–treat exercise as a must do job instead of a chore–embrace exercise !!

  7. I go to Aqua Aerobics twice a week. We work at our own pace within the group. I cannot raise my arm but am sure the exercise keeps it from deteriorating too quickly

  8. an older lady scoffed at my ten minutes every day – yoga, core exercises and pushups – she said ‘you need to do at least an hour !’

    I said ‘when was the last time you did an hour ?’ – she dissembled – ‘oh – last month – I keep meaning to – but I’ve been busy …’

    I told her – “I think my ten minutes every day beats your ‘I meant to do it last month’ ”

    Plus I live 150m from the CBD – and walk most everywhere – so get incidental exercise e.g about 6 hours on my feet walking to and from and including a sailing ship cruise on the harbor this morning.

    Doctor checkup yesterday – my blood pressure is ‘perfect’ and if my blood test results are like last year, that (female) doctor told me ‘you are the perfect man !’ (I didn’t invite her out – not my type)

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