You don’t need to be told that keeping fit is good for you, but as you advance in years, you may find it more difficult to get motivated to do exercise. You may even think, What’s the point? What difference will it make?
Exercising is beneficial to so many aspects of later years living. Whether you’re 50 or 90, exercise can make a positive difference to your physical and mental health, and that’s got to be worth it.
Regular exercise keeps your mind sharp, and helps you beat memory loss. Exercise can dramatically improve your overall wellbeing, including tackling milder forms of depression.
It can help to maintain muscle mass and bone density, reducing the risk of falls and injury.
Exercise can even reduce the risk of illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Here are just five exercises you can easily get into, and easily maintain. Check with your GP first if you have any medical issues.
If you have a relaxing pool nearby, as residents of Scalesceugh will soon have, try to take advantage of it whenever you can.
You might think it’s a chore to take off your clothes, get changed into your swimming costume, get wet, get dry and get dressed again, but the swimming in between can be gentle, therapeutic and extremely beneficial to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Swimming gives a full body workout, but you probably won’t even realise it unless you’re training for the Olympics.
It strengthens muscle groups and improves your cardiovascular system.
It’s easy to monitor progress, as you can start with a few lengths and move on to counting well into the tens. You’ll soon feel stronger and fitter.
Some people like the solitude of swimming, some even use the time to exercise their brain as well, coming up with creative ideas while they are making their way up and down the pool.
Others like the social aspect of swimming - either going with friends, or joining a water-based exercise class such as aqua aerobics.
Swimming should be pleasurable, there’s no need to push yourself too hard. The water will massage your aches and pains away. And you should feel good afterwards.
Join a local yoga class and you’ll learn that simple movements, poses, relaxation, meditation and breathing techniques can improve your mood and increase your balance, strength and muscle tone.
Research suggests that yoga can prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as easing aches and pains.
A lot of people find yoga a great way to unwind, so it’s useful in helping you cope with the stresses of life, too.
And a bonus for many is that most exercises are performed while you are seated or lying down.
Slow, controlled movements is the name of the game with pilates, building your core muscle strength, rebalancing the body and improving your posture.
Pilates can help to reduce back and joint pain and improve strength to prevent falls and boost your overall wellbeing.
Walking, as you might expect, is the most popular low-impact exercise, because most of us are fortunate enough to be able to do it, and without significant effort.
It burns calories and helps to pump blood healthily around your body. Breathing in the fresh air makes you feel great and you can walk to meet people, or walk with people, even as part of a walking club, so social benefits are clear, too.
You do need to put a little more effort in to benefit more, perhaps walking briskly or aiming for 10,000 steps a day, but this will depend on your health and time constraints.
There has been a significant rise in the number of people taking up cycling in their 50s, 60s, 70s and later.
Again, it is an exercise that you can control and monitor. You only need to start slowly and take short journeys, possibly on traffic-free cycle paths.
As you get more confident, you may wish to go a little faster and go on longer journeys.
Cycling is a low-impact exercise and works your cardiovascular system and lower body.
Kit yourself out with everything you need to stay safe, and make sure your bike is adjusted for your height.
You could also take up indoor cycling and go to spin classes. Cycling on the spot builds muscle strength, improves balance and can improve the functioning of the lungs and heart, as well as burning calories.