We used to think that, along with arthritis, high blood pressure and strokes, ageing meant being weaker, slower and stiffer. Even housework and gardening were seen as too hard for some.
As Boomers started to retire, research proved all that was not necessarily true. ‘Use it or lose it’ is the new paradigm – the more you move, the fitter you are, and better able to manage those diseases and conditions that were once considered an ‘inevitable’ part of getting old.
The message now is: even if you’ve never exercised before, it’s not too late to start. Of course, you don’t want to injure yourself by doing too much too soon, so here’s how to begin safely.
First, get a check-up
See (or call) your doctor for a health check, to make sure you’re good to go. Find out just how fit you are (or aren’t), and whether any health issues will affect your exercise regime. If they do, don’t despair – getting fit could make those issues much more manageable.
Keep track of your workouts
Time your workouts with a stopwatch and jot down your stats in a notebook – daily weight, minutes and types of exercise. Or get an app for your smartphone that does some of that for you. Tracking will show you how you’re progressing, even if it’s only by tiny amounts at first.
Stretch and warm up
To avoid injury, always start your routine with a warm-up – stretching, slow arm swings and twists. Begin slowly, and as you warm up, pick up the intensity. Find your natural rhythm, and keep breathing.
Develop a balanced routine
After stretching, add aerobic, strength and balancing exercises gradually, as your fitness allows.
For better strength, use weights or stretch bands in your routine, and make sure you move every section of your body. For balance and flexibility try pilates, yoga or simply stand on one leg and then the other for a while!
Check your soreness level
If you haven’t exercised recently, you’ll likely feel sore after your first go. That’s normal, and you’ll probably work out the kinks over the next sessions. If the soreness is acute, or lasts for more than a day, you know you’ve gone too far. Dial it back a bit, and keep going at a more relaxed pace.
Of course, if you aren’t sore and there’s no difference in your stiff joints or poor night’s sleep, then you aren’t exercising enough. Get to work!
You’re never too old to be fit
Get more energy, do more things and sleep better – you can have all that when you exercise regularly. Treat yourself to a happy, active old age – start your exercise regime today.
Looking for lockdown exercise ideas? We have some here.