Doing seven hours of specific and targeted physical activity a week – yup, I can happily say that I’m fit for my age. Getting fit after 40 with my new career as a personal trainer was something I relished after years working in retail management.
Sometimes, whilst working around the house or garden, I stop and am literally startled at what a body can do at over 60 years of age. I’m not saying this to boast. I just want to start in a positive light.
The only time I can remember my mother ever went to an exercise class or did anything to explicitly improve her fitness was, unfortunately, when she was in a wheelchair.
It was a locally organized community group to encourage older adults to do some sort of movement. But, even then, I remember her poo-pooing the idea that there would be any benefit at all.
Sadly, our parents’ generation grew up to the set standard of working hard, raising a family, and upon reaching 60 (or 65 for men), retirement. There was little to no deviation from the usual ongoing chores like eating, sleeping, and having the occasional trip, interspersed with watching Days of Our Lives.
Of course, our parents aren’t at fault. The current ‘older’ generation – yes, like me and you – are fully aware of the meaning of the simple but true maxim “use it or lose it,” but awareness does not always turn into action.
We are more aware of the benefits of regular exercise than ever before, but still we make excuses. It is sometimes hard to get into a habit of physical activity without the immediate gratification of positive results. Like a lot of things in life, however, if you keep at it the rewards will be all too evident.
According to one source, fitness is “The ability to carry out daily tasks and routine physical activities without undue fatigue.” That’s quite uninspiring though.
You could sit around all day and internally believe that, at any time, you’ll be ready to get up to prepare dinner or chop some wood. But would that be true?
The above definition easily creates association with the saying “fit for purpose.” And if something is not fit for purpose then you might as well bin it.
On another note, we all know that astronauts are fit people. They’d have to be. Millions of dollars have been spent on high-tech cardio and weight resistance machines that try to keep them fit whilst in space.
Shockingly, during their stay at the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts can lose up to 50% of their aerobic capacity. Additionally, bone and muscle mass decreases significantly up in space – for every month spent on the ISS, astronauts may lose up to 1% of their bone density without proper exercise.
It’s no surprise then that an astronaut’s life is much the same as a person over 60 with no physical commitments. When someone is inactive for long periods, strength, bone, and muscle mass is lost and the body atrophies.
It’s never too late to start a regular program of physical activity. And if you’re just beginning, a great place to start exercising is from home. It will be beneficial whatever age you are.
First of all, I am not a medical practitioner and my suggestions are based on personal or anecdotal experience, so if you’re in any doubt about proceeding with an exercise program, please check with your medical professional beforehand.
There are generally three areas that concern fitness.
Cardiovascular, as the name suggests, is a form of continuous steady physical activity that activates the heart and respiratory system. Having efficient oxygen take-up to all the cells in your body minimizes the risk of related heart diseases and cancers.
Strength comes from activating the major and anterior muscle groups to make the body stronger with better balance. The resulting leaner muscle promotes good weight management and lessens the risk of many aging-related diseases.
Strength and resistance exercises lead to stronger bones, which lessens the risk of osteoporosis in later life. The bone mass can be retained and can even grow with correct strength training.
The third and least stressful of our pillars of fitness is stretching, though many don’t always see the importance and benefits of gentle but purposeful body movements.
To get started with exercise, you don’t need any specific training equipment. Ideally, a towel, a mat, suitable clothing, water, perhaps a sturdy chair, and a favorite video series would do quite well.
An initial program should cover cardio, strength, warming up beforehand, and stretching after. As you get fitter, stronger, and faster you can up the tempo, use weights, and follow a video series that pushes a little further.
Fitness Blender has 500 videos aimed at all levels.
In addition to those two or three weekly workouts from home, you can find an exercise group that can help you stay social and have fun.
Make a weekly date with a like-minded friend or friends to keep you motivated to maintain the habit. Exercising together, maybe in a class where you meet people is good for general well-being.
Some suggestions include dancing, tai-chi, yoga, swimming or aquafit, mall walking, hiking, and cycling. Anything that gets your body moving and the heart pumping is beneficial and fun.
Whatever you choose, keep it up and enjoy. Let us know how you go.
What makes up your exercise regime? If you haven’t started one yet, what are you afraid of? What type of exercise do you think you would enjoy the most? Please share in the comments below.
Tags Fitness Over 60