Fitness is good at any age
Getting older is inevitable – but you don’t have to feel older, or act older. Today’s baby boomers are likely to live 15 years longer than their parents’ generation. So how to make the most of those golden years? Starting today, the Daily Express’s definitive three-part anti-ageing guide has all the expert advice you need on physical and mental workouts, plus nutrition and lifestyle tweaks to help you keep body and brain in optimum condition. Part One is all about exercise, and how to get it right at any age.
The research is undeniable: the key to ageing well and healthily is exercise.
But the message just isn’t getting through.
According to the British Heart Foundation, working-age adults in the UK spend 9.5 hours each day sitting down.
By 65, this has increased to 10 hours a day.
So why not make today the day you stop or slow down, the clock?
“Exercise doesn’t reverse ageing,” says Stephen Harridge, the professor of Human and Applied Physiology at King’s College London.
“What is does is allow you to age well, and not before your time. The body is designed to be active. When it’s not, problems start.
“Being inactive accelerates ageing. On the other hand, exercise benefits pretty much every part of the body – muscles, heart, lungs, immune system and cognitive function.
The key to ageing well and healthily is exercise
“We have studied people who have exercised for most of their lives and discovered that they have much better physical function than people of a similar age who don’t do any exercise.
“Mental health and cognitive function are better in people who are physically active too,” says Professor Harridge.
And don’t forget about the social benefits.
“This can be especially important as you get older,” he adds. “You can form new friendships through exercise classes and walking clubs, which helps combat loneliness.”
And it’s never too late to start.
“You can improve your fitness no matter how old you are,” he says.
Regular cardio sessions will help you lose weight and stay in shape
30S – CARDIO
Regular cardio sessions – brisk walking, swimming, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), running or cycling – will help you lose weight and stay in shape.
It is important to find exercise that fits into your lifestyle, one that you enjoy and will stick to.
So HIIT and bodyweight training are ideal as they can be done anytime, anywhere and with no equipment.
Bodyweight exercises such as planks, burpees and squat jumps help to build lean muscle and boost bone density.
Cardio provides a cognitive boost too, encouraging the production of new brain cells.
Aerobic exercise can help combat cardiovascular disease
40S – RUNNING
For women, exercise in their 40s is vital.
This is the decade when most women go into perimenopause, meaning oestrogen levels decline and your body starts storing fat around your middle.
For men and women, aerobic exercise can help combat cardiovascular disease.
Try weight-bearing activities such as running or jogging to ensure muscle mass grows along with your fitness levels.
At this age, it is also a good idea to start preserving strength through regular resistance and bodyweight training.
If you like to work out with friends, join a fitness class such as circuits or body pump.
You’ll be under the watchful eye of a trainer, which can help to prevent injury.
Try cycling or exercising on the cross trainer in your gym
50S – CYCLING
According to a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, thinking and memory skills are most improved in people over 50 when they do moderate aerobic and resistance exercise on a regular basis.
If you’re new to exercise at this age, start slowly to protect your joints, and try cycling or exercising on the cross trainer in your gym as both are low impact exercises.
Research also found a five percent improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness from regular cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests.
There’s also evidence to show cycling regularly can improve memory and problem-solving skills by up to 20 percent.
Swimming is a great place to start working out
60S – SWIMMING
It’s never too late to take up fitness but in your 60s stick to low-impact exercises, especially if you are new to working out.
Swimming is a great place to start.
As well as burning calories, it uses all the big muscle groups, but the pool’s weightless environment is gentle on your joints.
Research has also found that immersing yourself in water increases blood flow to the brain, resulting in better cognitive function.
As you age, your body becomes less flexible, so try yoga and pilates.
Weight-bearing yoga postures can increase bone density and build muscle as well as improving balance.
Recent research also shows that regular yoga practice can help to reduce joint pain and improve flexibility, as well as reducing inflammation.
Be careful when jogging if your balance is bad
70S – WALKING
When you reach your 70s there are many great reasons to exercise including keeping your body looking and feeling younger.
As you get older your sense of balance and reaction times can slow, so keep this in mind when choosing what to do.
Be careful when cycling outdoors or jogging if your balance is bad, as this could result in an injury.
Instead, include a social element in your exercise routine, such as walking with friends.
Aqua aerobics classes are also another example of a fun group activity that will provide a good workout while not putting too much pressure on your joints.
Exercising in your 80s is a great way to preserve independence
80S AND BEYOND – DANCING
Exercising in your 80s is a great way to preserve independence and will help you stay active.
Activities such as ballroom dancing will keep you nimble and moving, without putting too much strain on the joints. It can be a relaxing form of exercise and it is low impact compared to other dance types.
Ballroom dancing could also help to preserve your memory, by challenging your brain to remember the steps and movements.
It’s also something fun you can do with your partner or a friend.