How to be fit in your 60s and beyond
Keeping active can slow ageing and increase life expectancy
Posted on 06.11.2019
Ageing is inevitable and is influenced by many things – but keeping active can slow ageing and increase life expectancy. Evidence shows that ageing alone is not a cause of major problems until you are in your mid-90s. And strength, power and muscle mass can be increased, even at this advanced age.
So here are my top exercise tips for people in their 60s and older, at different levels of fitness.
If you fall into this group, you are in the minority. You are robust, likely to be a “super-ager” and you are doing wonderfully. You are certainly optimising your chance of living longer and ageing successfully.
Generally, this is when you reap your reward from a lifetime of keeping active. With your healthier metabolic, skeletal, cardiovascular and immune systems you can probably outperform people decades younger.
Keep up the kettlebells, spin classes, rowing, triathlons or manual work such as gardening – whatever you like to do. You can keep challenging yourself physically. Mix your routine up – a combination of aerobic and resistance work as well as an activity to challenge your balance is ideal.
Maximise health benefits by swimming outdoors and as part of a community. You might want to try sea swimming – although it’s not for everybody.
But watch out for chronic overloading, that is, diversify your exercise programme by incorporating cross-training. For example, if you are a runner, incorporate cycling or swimming to avoid overloading any part of your body.
You are doing well, so keep going. Long-term consistency is the key for benefits. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym, just keep building meaningful physical activity into your day. For example, walk briskly to the shops to get your groceries, keep up gardening and be active around your house. Even repeating simple stair climbing is a great exercise.
If you are suffering from hip or knee pain, walking may be painful, so try cycling or water-based exercise instead.
The main thing is to avoid long periods of sitting. Also, ideally, continue to do the exercise you enjoy. Try to steadily build up your level of aerobic exercise at a level where you build up a sweat and feel slightly out of breath.
Often strengthening and flexibility exercises are neglected, so try to include these type of exercises where possible.
You may be managing complex chronic conditions, which make it more difficult to exercise. Or it may be that exercise is not a habit for you. If you have several chronic conditions, you may need clearance from a doctor to exercise and specialised exercise advice from a physiotherapist or other exercise professional.
If you are experiencing three or more of the following: unplanned weight loss, exhaustion, slowness, weakness of grip and physical inactivity you may be considered frail, which will leave you vulnerable to even minor health stresses. But it is never too late to build more physical activity into your daily life.
Just remember, whatever your state of health, it’s never too late to reap the benefits of being more physically active.
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