How To Maintain Your Fitness As You Get Older
Do you find yourself making excuses because of your age? Are there things you wish you could do but think they're best left to youngsters? Think again! Staying active and fit as you age is one of the most important things you can do. We're here with our top tips to maintain your fitness and stay healthy as you get older.
Do resistance training
It's still the biggest trend among fitness fanatics to do lots of heavy weight training, but lifting weights and doing resistance training has many more benefits than just bulking you up and giving you a great physique. It is scientifically proven that weight training increases your bone density which is important as you age to prevent natural deterioration in your bones and can help protect against age-related issues such as osteoporosis.
Not only this, having strong muscles around joints such as the knees can prevent these joints from failing so you're less likely to need a knee or hip replacement if you're regularly lifting weights. This doesn't mean you should be trying to out-lift everyone at the gym but doing regular, sensible resistance training will do the trick. Anything that adds resistance counts, so you don't have to hit the free weights area but can use the rowing machine, resistance machines, or lift weights if you'd like!
Forget the fads
Keto, paleo, whole30... there will always be fad diets around and people who claim that they lost drastic amounts of weight by following them. However, as you age your body needs extra care and won't bounce back so easily from an extreme diet. More so than ever, as you age you need to take it easy and if you're trying to lose weight you need to do it very slowly. Avoid fad diets which are very high in fat or that cut out entire food groups and instead stick to a natural, whole diet rich in lean protein, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and lots of fruit and vegetables.
While it may be true that these extreme diets do allow some people to lose weight, it is still a severe method and a lot of people end up gaining all the weight back anyway.
Stay 'all day active'
The best way to be active is to be 'all day active' which means walking or cycling instead of driving, making sure you don't sit for extended periods of time, and making a conscious effort to be active throughout the day instead of just for an hour or so of prescribed exercise.
If you adopt an active lifestyle you are far more likely to be healthy overall and to benefit from reduced lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. If you work, try adding activity into your work day by going for a walk at lunch time and incorporating exercise into your commute. If you're already retired, make the most of easy at-home exercise such as gardening and walking the dog.
Know your limits
It's always important to listen to your body and this is true even more so as you get older. There are often stories in the news of people discovering a passion for marathon running at the age of 60 or CrossFitters who are in their 80s, so we know it's possible to be active as we age, but make sure you're careful.
At any age, it's important to listen to your body and stop training if you become injured. Never push through real pain and give your body plenty of time to rest and recover. If you weren't particularly active when you were younger, you will most likely find it tougher than someone who has been active all their life.
What are the best exercises for older people?
So if you're going to stay fit and active as you age, what exercises and workouts should you be doing? These are the best exercises for older people.
Yoga or Pilates
Yoga and Pilates have proven their effectiveness over thousands of years and are practised all over the world. Low intensity slow movements combined with tough holds and challenging positions will test your muscles and improve your fitness while being gentle on your joints and not over-exerting you. Be careful though, practices like hot yoga or Bikram can be very strenuous so perhaps stick with the gentler types, especially if you have conditions like high blood pressure.
Swimming is zero-impact and can strengthen your joints without putting any pressure on them. This is especially good if you are heavy or suffer from joint problems and/or conditions like arthritis. Swimming is a full-body workout and will exercise all of your muscle groups from top to toe. It is also a functional workout as your muscle groups have to work together to move (rather than isolated movements such as a bicep curl) which is better overall for your health and fitness.
As mentioned above, weight training is not just for young gym goers looking to pile on the muscle and impress their peers. Done with correct form and in moderation, weight training can increase your bone density and can protect your joints from deterioration. Not only this, our metabolisms slow naturally as we age but weight training increases the metabolism, so this will offset some of the natural side effects of ageing and help keep you in great shape.
Keeping it simple, brisk walking is an easy and free way to stay fit and active as you age. Walking at a fairly fast pace can burn anything from 60 to 100 calories per mile. Walking is easy on the joints and getting out into the fresh air is great for not only your physical health but your mental health too. Pair this with making it social by walking with friends, making it practical by walking to the shops or appointments, or making it fun by walking the dog and you've got a great easy way to get fit without feeling like you're even trying!