Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine later in life comes with its own set of challenges, so it’s important to make the right decisions to ensure you reap the rewards.
Investing in exercise at any age can help boost your energy and improve your overall health – so there’s no reason that should stop after you hit the half-century.
The New Daily spoke to the experts about the top exercise tips for staying fit well into retirement and beyond.
Endurance activities get the heart rate pumping and help improve your overall fitness and health.
Exercises include swimming, dancing, brisk walking, or even tending to the garden.
Dr Cilla Haywood, research investigator from the Department of Medicine at Melbourne University, says diverse classes at gyms are a good option.
“A lot of people think that as they get older they can afford to relax and that exercise is something only young people need to do,” Dr Haywood says.
“But the older you get the more important it is to exercise because the consequences are greater if you lose that function.
“You should be exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”
For many people, a desk-bound job is a part of life, but that also means sitting for long stints during the day.
Muscle strength is important to keep you strong and can help prevent injuries in the long run.
Frances Scarrott is the Pryme Move Co-ordinator at YMCA’s Northcote Acquatic and Recreation Centre where she runs gym sessions for over 50s.
Ms Scarrott says simply lifting some weights or doing sets of push-ups can prove beneficial for seniors.
“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do for our health.”
Balance exercises can play an important part later in life as they can help prevent falls as your mobility declines.
Some beneficial exercises include Tai Chi and yoga.
But even if you’re at home, standing on one foot and repeating it 10 to 15 times can help.
“After middle age people lose their balance and that translates to falls and fractures,” Dr Haywood warns.
Dr Haywood recommends Tai Chi for flexibility as a good option for seniors.
Stretching is also great for maintaining joint and muscle flexibility, she added.
“I see the end stages of decline in older people. If you don’t exercise when you’re around 50 or middle-aged then I see the end stages of it.”
Before you begin
Of course, embarking on any new exercise regime needs to be done gradually and with adequate advice.
Ms Scarrott provides her members with a health consultation and fitness test before coming up with a tailored training plan for the individual.
“I just want older adults to be fit and enjoy what they do and find exercise everyday. The benefits are gold,” Ms Scarrot says.
Dr Haywood believes general fitness classes offered by gyms are the best option as they cover all bases, but it’s important to start slowly.
“Always see your doctor and get yourself medically cleared if you’re starting an exercise program,” Dr Haywood says.
“If you go out too hard then you risk getting injured or hurt.
“Start slowly. Increase gradually and be consistent.”
The role model
Gold Coast resident Sean O’Hara is a sprightly 77 and has competed regularly in race walking events at Masters Games, both locally and internationally, for many years.
His next event is at the Masters Games on the Gold Coast in November where he’ll tough it out in the 75-79 age group.
Mr O’Hara started walking in his late 50s and believes regular exercise has kept him active and feeling younger.
“I go for walks every morning and go for a bit of a jog,” he says.
“I do my own time, whether it’s ten or fifteen minutes or whether it’s an hour. I just keep myself healthy and don’t do anything out of the ordinary.”