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So who needs exercise?
Over the generations our habits have changed. There's been two major contributors to the overall decline in people's health: convenience food and driving. We got lazy and ate too much of the wrong food.
Living longer has it's drawbacks
Living longer gives the effects of leading sedentary lifestyles, and subsequent health-related issues, longer to have an effect on our fitness. Like a build-up of snow balancing precariously on a cliff edge, when your health starts to topple, like an avalanche, you go downhill fast. As the saying goes, prevention is better than the cure. Anyone who's started exercising after years of sloth will tell you: getting in shape is harder than keeping in shape. But the benefits are many. For starters, it might well save your life.
Benefits of keeping in shape at 60+.
You might have the attitude of: when my time's up, it's up. There's no harm in not fearing death. But how about spending the rest of your life needing constant care, medication, and losing your dignity because you can't go to the loo? These are things we all fear about getting old, right? So if you've got this far unscathed, and still have a passion for life, it's time to look after yourself. In return for feeling loved again, your new body will:
It's easy to gain weight as we get older. Loss in collagen and our bodies inability to produce any or enough to keep us firm means we sag. But you can still tone up a little and help prevent future sagging. The extra oxygen you breathe will bring colour to your cheeks and brighten your eyes too.
Improve your social life
If you're able to get out and about but you don't want to be alone, there's a variety of groups you could join. If you're thinking about trying something different, like a tai chi class, many offer concessions and a taster session first to see if it's for you. And no, it's not a cookery class.
Help you feel alive!
Exercise releases endorphins. Unless something bad happened, nobody feels bad after a stroll in the park. We weren't designed to be stuck inside all day. We need energising. Once your batteries are charged, you'll (figuratively) run for longer.
Easy workouts for pensioners
Whatever excuse you come up with to not exercise at all, is exactly that: an excuse. Don't worry, it's not just you, most people, of all ages, find genuine reasons to put off keeping fit until another day. The rain, too much sun, back hurts, someone might call, etc. All legitimate reasons?
Or it might be that there's nowhere to go. You're not walking into a gym full of beautiful young adults, you'd feel stupid. And you're hardly going to put on a tracksuit and jog along the high street, you actually might drop dead.
Do as little as you like wherever and whenever you like
What matters is that you do something, you make a start. Seriously, you don't need to go to the gym. If you can't get outside, there's plenty of exercises you can do at home; ask your healthcare professional for suggestions. If you're still mobile, then there should be some sort of activity to suit you, even it's shopping. And if you do already go to the gym, then good for you. We salute you! If you don't enjoy it, try one of these safe, low-impact workouts instead:
Explore the great outdoors
Low-impact means taking it easy, not putting your joints and limbs under too much strain. Best of all, experts say it's just as effective as tougher workouts those serious athlete-types do. So if you're not training to run a marathon, walk, don't run. Walk anywhere, but if you want the added benefit of stunning scenery and clean air, go fill your lungs in the countryside where it's pretty. Oxygenate your blood and remember why you're alive.
If there's no green space near you, why not take a train ride to where there is some? Go with a friend (help them keep fit), they'll think it's a great idea for a day out. Do it at least once a week and, if you can, try increase your pace and distance. When you've built up stamina, pick a hill.
Like walking, swimming gives you a low-impact way to keep fit. More so, swimming exercises your whole body and there's no end of options for the styles you can try. It gives you the equivalent of an aerobics workout but without the strain. If you can't swim but don't mind water, this could be an excellent opportunity to learn. You'll meet new people too, a hot chocolate always goes down well after.
Dust off your bicycle
Cycling is perfect for improving your cardiovascular system; it strengthens your heart. It's also fun and easy on your joints. If you don't have one, chances are someone you know has a bike tucked away at the back of their garage, gathering dust and rust (like you).
However: Be careful. Cycling, especially if it's been a while, does have a few risks swimming and walking don't. Unlike swimming, if you don't know how to ride a bike, you could learn, but it might not be a good idea. Also, if you live in a city without a good-sized park and cycle lanes, consider heading to the countryside - cars and fumes are a health risk.
Many forms of yoga and tai chi are ancient practises involving slow movements. Intended to improve mental as well as physical agility, one of these classes could be a great starting point for getting in shape. Pilates has been hugely popular too; trendy amongst the rich and famous, it helps posture and balance while toning and strengthening your body.
One huge advantage about the craze in alternative fitness is that it's created tonnes of books and videos. So, if you don't enjoy or can't get to a class, you can do it at home.
Before you start
Don't dive straight in. It's important to consult with your doctor and get a full physical to see what your body can handle. Take it easy and do a few warm up exercises before you start and remember to warm down after or you'll seize up.
Don't fall for 'it won't happen to me'
We all know someone who lived to be really old and did all the things we're told we shouldn't. They smoked, drank, ate fish and chips most nights and loved cream buns; they drank coffee and beer by the barrel. If they never walked beyond the pub and never exercised, they were blessed with good genes and luck. Nothing more. The best way to describe living like that is to compare it to a game of Russian roulette. You've probably known someone who just dropped dead, seemingly out of the blue, or was crippled by a heart attack or stroke? Think about the lifestyle they had. It might have been the cause.
Do something to help take care of yourself
If you're still short on ideas, there's lots of things you could do around the home: gardening (weeding) and cleaning can be intensive. Or you could always do something nice and offer to cut your neighbour's lawn or help them with their shopping. The possibilities are endless, life isn't.
Life insurance doesn't have to be unaffordable. This applies even as we get older, since policies are available which are designed to cater for the needs of those approaching, or over, pensionable age.
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