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!
Try this upper body arm workout for women to blast your arms and get results! Including exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Perfect for toning and sculpting your arms and bingo wings.
Cable Tricep Pull Downs
This exercise is for isolating the triceps.
How to perform the tricep pull down
Using either a straight bar or rope attachment, attach to a cable machine in the high position. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, pull the bar down and keep your elbows tucked in. Push the bar down, fully extending your arms, then slowly raise the bar up back to the start position. Keep the movement control and feel the burn in the back of your arms!
Key exercise tips:
- Keep the elbows tucked in
- Fully extend the arms
- Exhale as you press down and inhale on the way up
- Too much movement of the arms – taking the elbows away from the body
- Shrugging the shoulders and using the trap muscles
- Going too heavy and using momentum
This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will trim and tone the arms whilst simultaneously working the core and blasting the shoulders.
How to use the battle ropes
Hold the ends of the rope at arm's length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, soften your knees, and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, instead of making waves, start slamming the rope into the ground. Make sure to keep breathing and don't hold your breath!
Key exercise tips:
- Tense your abs tightly during performance
- Concentrate on keeping your speed fast
- Don't hold your breath
- Sacrificing technique with fatigue
- Performing the exercise for too long
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
This is an isolation exercise for the biceps using a pair of dumbbells.
How to perform the dumbbell curl
In a standing position, holding a dumbbell in your hand and keeping your elbow pinned to your waist, curl your arm up to your chest, flexing your elbow then slowly extend it back down again. Repeat on each arm for 10-12 reps.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your elbow in a fixed position
- Fully extend your arm at the bottom of the movement
- Moving the elbow out of alignment
- Going too heavy and sacrificing technique
- Swinging the body with the movement
Tricep Bench Dips
This is a body weight exercise that you can do virtually anywhere. It’s a compound exercise, which means it will hit all three of your tricep muscles as well as your shoulders and chest muscles.
How to perform the tricep bench dip
Position your hands at shoulder width apart on a bench with your hands facing forward. Extend your legs out, taking your bum off the bench balancing on your hands.
Lower your body down towards the floor taking your arms into a 90 degrees bend. Press your body upwards, extending out your arms back into the start position.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your core tight to maintain an upright position
- Make sure your elbows track in line with your hand
- Breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you press up
- If you find it difficult to perform the tricep dip with straight legs then bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor
- Rounding/curving back
- Not going low enough
- Hyperextending the elbows
We often read about living a healthy lifestyle and there are countless 'lifestyle bloggers' making a fortune from advocating this way of life. But what actually is a healthy lifestyle? And how can you live a healthy lifestyle?
Why is having a healthy lifestyle important?
A healthy lifestyle is all about the choices you make regarding your daily habits. Do you slump on the sofa and eat an entire packet of biscuits when you get home from work or do you go for a run and eat a healthy dinner? These daily choices determine whether you're healthy or not, and can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Not only will you feel better mentally, living a healthy lifestyle will lower your risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases meaning you are physically healthier too.
The benefits of living a healthy lifestyle
- Reduced risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases
- Improved mood and brain function
- Improved work performance and concentration
- Better self-confidence and happiness
- Improved appearance due to better quality skin and hair
- Improved relationships
- Reduced frequency of minor illnesses such as common cold
- Improved immune system
How can I change to a healthy lifestyle?
Probably the most obvious thing to address when changing to a healthy lifestyle is improving your diet. For a lot of people, the first thought is to make a complete overhaul and take extreme measures such as doing a detox or following an extreme diet. However, this is not a viable or sustainable way of changing to a healthy lifestyle. Consistency is key, so you need to make your changes for life and make sure you get into daily healthy habits that you can stick with long term. Take control of your diet by learning about macronutrients and how counting them can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Eating a snack or a treat every now and then is also part of living a healthy lifestyle, as a restricted diet is not healthy and not sustainable. Balance is important, so make sure you don't remove entire food groups from your diet.
One way to improve your diet is by going vegan. This can be fairly extreme, so make sure you do your research first, and it certainly isn't suitable for everyone. Find a healthy diet that works best for you and your unique needs and you'll be well on your way to having a healthy lifestyle.
- Eat plenty of protein
- Limit unhealthy foods but still allow a treat from time to time
- Limit processed foods
- Cook from scratch wherever possible
- Do not take extreme measures to lose weight
When changing to a healthier diet, many people tend to neglect what they drink and focus only on what they eat. You could be drinking lots of sugar in your drinks if you enjoy branded soft drinks, and there are even worse health effects associated with drinking large volumes of alcohol. If your lifestyle currently consists of going out drinking with friends every weekend, or drinking regularly as part of your daily routine, this is not healthy. In order to change to a healthy lifestyle, you will need to reduce or even eliminate altogether the amount of alcohol you drink. There are many benefits of giving up alcohol or even just drinking less, such as better skin, reduced risk of cancer, and improved mood. Not to mention no more hangovers!
- Limit sugar drinks
- Limit energy drinks
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
- Drink more water
Third in the pecking order of living a healthy lifestyle after diet and drinks is sleep. If you have poor quality sleep or do not get enough each night, your health will deteriorate quickly and you will have a poor quality of life. The average healthy adult should aim for an absolute minimum of 6 hours each night, but 8-10 hours is optimum for healthy brain function and performance.
Not only is it important for your daily functions, sleep is important for recovery too. If you do a great workout at the gym or go for a long run or cycle, having a good night's sleep is vital for recovery so that your muscles can grow and your tissue and immune system can stay healthy.
Not getting enough sleep is not the only unhealthy habit you may have; the quality of your sleep is important too. If you sleep with a television or music on, this is not conducive to a good night's sleep and it will mean your hormones are negatively affected. If you are continuously awoken throughout the night by loud noises, a baby crying, or a snoring partner, you will definitely suffer from bad moods and lack of concentration the next day. You can track your sleep using a fitness tracker or wearable to analyse the quality of your sleep and see if you are constantly being disturbed throughout the night. Getting a good 10 hours of high quality sleep every night is key to living a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, you cannot 'catch up on sleep' at the weekend - you have to be consistent!
- Try to get 8-10 hours sleep every night
- Don't try to catch up on sleep at the weekend
- Get into a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time 7 days a week
- Eliminate disruptions to your sleep by not sleeping with television or music on
We spend a lot of our time at work, so your healthy lifestyle needs to translate into the office as well as at home. If you can, try to work out while at work, as working out at work can help prevent health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. If you sit at a desk all day, try to get up and walk around every hour and if you have a manual job where you are on your feet all day, make sure you take rests.
There is lots of advice out there on how to workout at work and it is easier than you think. By following healthy work habits, you will greatly improve your chances of benefiting from a healthy lifestyle.Try to avoid snacking and avoid the temptation of all the unhealthy food in your workplace! Bring a homemade lunch with you each day so that you can control your portions and know exactly what you're eating.
- Get up and stay active while at work
- Avoid temptation by bringing your own food to work
External factors (family, friends, stress)
After all is said and done, there will always be external factors that you cannot control and which can undo all your hard work. If your home life is hectic and stressful, there is not much chance that you will be able to live a fully healthy lifestyle. Try to address the things that are causing you to have bad habits, such as grabbing a ready meal because you don't have time to make a healthy dinner or not getting enough sleep because of stress.
There are ways to manage depression which don't involve going to see a therapist, such as meditating, doing vigorous exercise, and finding a new hobby. All of these are very important for living a healthy lifestyle, and can make a huge difference to your well being. You can manage stress with exercise by going for a long run to clear your head or taking your frustrations out at the gym.
If wintry conditions prevent you from running outside, the treadmill might be your only option. While this is rarely a good thing (although some athletes actually prefer the treadmill!) you can still have a good workout and get those miles in.
Use heart rate data
Heart rate training is a great way to maximise results and be able to get more out of your training session. By using a fitness wearable that incorporates heart rate tracking, you will be able to monitor your heart rate throughout the workout to make sure that you are working hard enough! A lot of heart rate trackers will allow you to do a VO2 max test and even an FTP test which will give you your personalised heart rate zones and this will help you to identify where you want to be when you're running.
Do hill repeats
If you live in a flat area, the treadmill can be your only opportunity to get some hill training in, so make the most of it! Hill training as well as sprints are vital for getting faster at running and improving your overall fitness. Pounding the pavement for mile after mile is good for acclimatising your body to endurance, but hill work and sprints will improve your overall form, not to mention the fact it'll save you when you inevitably hit a hill during your race!
Try Fartlek training
Fartlek may sound like a hilarious word to us English speakers, it's actually a very important method of training. From the Swedish meaning 'speed play', Fartlek training refers to a type of interval training when you mix up the speeds and intensities randomly. Most types of interval training will have you doing the same repeats, such as 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. However, in Fartlek, the idea is to keep your body guessing and change it up every time, so you might sprint for 40 seconds, then walk for 20 seconds, then jog for 50 seconds, then sprint again for 30 seconds and so on. The more random the better, as this will stop your body from adapting and will help you see better results.
Don't get distracted
You'll see at lot of people at the gym who will sit back on a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill with a book, magazine, or even a film in front of them. While the logic of this is sound, it is not conducive to a good workout. If you are focussed on something else, you won't be focussed on your training. You need to concentrate on your running, listen to your body, and push hard to get results. If it feels easy, it's not working!
Whether it's being able to keep up with your children and grandchildren or just because you want to live and long and healthy life, we all strive to find the 'secret' to staying fit and healthy. Your inspiration might be Elle Macpherson looking and feeling flawless at 53 or a grandparent who is completing Ironman races. Sundried asked our athletes, coaches, and personal trainer ambassadors what their 'secret' to staying fit and healthy is, as these are the people who eat right, train, and get results no matter what and are inspirational to all of us.
James Griffiths, Personal Trainer
"Consistency and never relying on someone else to motivate me to train. It's my responsibility."
Thomas Hill, Personal Trainer
"I focus on the long term. I want to be swinging kettlebells, deadlifting and doing handstands when I'm 90 as well as running rings around my grandchildren!"
Paul Suett, Team GB Triathlete
"Just simply eating well and getting a good nights sleep every night, I make sure I get a minimum 9 hours a night and then I feel recovered to train the next day."
James Eastwood, Ultramarathon Runner
"Foam rolling for me."
Mark Griffin, Triathlon Coach
"Learning to interpret and recognise the individual warning signs your body gives you and reacting accordingly."
John Wood, Team GB Triathlete & Coach
"Doing things that you enjoy. You'll maintain habits far better if you want to do them, or want to eat those things."
Alice Hector, Professional Triathlete
"I've got to have a goal to work towards - my focus and motivation decline rapidly without one!"
Garrett Turbett, Paratriathlete
"Having a goal I truly want to achieve. It needs to seem ridiculous and out of reach, otherwise I just can't get excited!"
Pollyanna Hale, Fit Mum Trainer
"It's a boring answer but it's consistency. Doing the little things, every. single. day. workout. eat veg. eat protein. drink lots. sleep enough. don't eat too much junk, but don't cut it out for ever. rinse and repeat."
Luke Elgar, Triathlete
"Training with people you enjoy spending time with!"
Rowan Mills, Personal Trainer
"Move often and well, 80/20 rule, 45 now and still feeling good."