Fitness at any age

Redefine your age, add years to your life and add life to your years!


The longer I've trained and the older I've got, like most of us as we age, we tend to sit back and notice a lot more of what is going on around us. We are at last starting to become more health aware and beginning to realise the massive benefits that being more active has to offer. Although the obesity epidemic is still rising, so on the other hand is the number of individuals taking up gym memberships or wanting just to partake in exercise.


One major thing I have noticed, being in my early 50's is the lack of trainers with appropriate knowledge to train people our age and beyond. OK I understand we are not unique snowflakes, yet we all are individual and more so as we age. Exercises need to be adapted for certain populations, regressed and progressed for that individual person and not the same routine given to an energetic 20 year old who's never even heard of the word osteoarthritis. 

Exercising as we age is massively important but we don't need a gym environment to do it, what we do need is someone who understands the ageing process and can relate to the problems we've had or are faced with. 


I've been a personal trainer for a numbers of years, yet before that I worked in a care home and closely with elderly residents. I witnessed first hand the lack of physical exercise these people had and how quickly as we age we lose our strength and muscle tone, something which is extremely important to us, and even more so as we age.


There are so many young trainers out there encouraging people to exercise in their environment of the gym; which is fantastic encouraging it to others. Yet what I've noticed is the lack of exercise guidance to people my age and beyond, an area that actually needs advice from trained individuals like myself.


First things first, you are never too old to start exercising, no matter what your age or physical condition, it's never too late to get your body moving. The mood benefits of exercise whether your 50, 60, 70 or 80 are still as great and just as beneficial as when you were 20 or 30.


Some people will naturally be extremely active whereas some may be slightly less active due to health problems or if recovering from an operation. Some people view the latter years as a time to relax which is fine but it is important to avoid becoming completely inactive.


Getting active isn’t just for the young! Many people think that the older you get, the weaker you are and the more sedentary you become. It’s also common to think exercise can injure an elderly person. In reality, exercise and activity is an essential part of living a healthy life for anyone of any age and brings with it a number of benefits. In fact, a lack of exercise can be detrimental for someone in their later years.


Starting an exercise plan at any age can be a challenge and it doesn't get easier as we get older. We get discouraged by our health problems, all those nagging aches and pains or concerns about injuries or falls. You might think you are too old old frail, you might have never exercised before or even thinks it's boring.


Well let me assure you, you can even ask your doctor; becoming more active can energise your mood, relieve stress, help manage the aches and pains; being an arthritis sufferer myself I can tell you first hand how exercise really does help ease the discomfort.  


One of the biggest health risks to older adults is injuries from falling. Each year about one in every three adults over the age of 65 experiences a fall and muscle weakness is one of the leading causes of those falls. So, by improving your strength, balance and flexibility with regular exercise the chance of falling can be reduced.


As we grow older exercise should and active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to our health, you don't need fancy gym equipment all you do need is your willingness to move a bit more, I use the saying ' move more today than yesterday' which is so apt as we age, after all motion truly is lotion. 


I feel so strongly about this area of personal training, so welcome any queries regarding fitness for older adults. If you would like to take it a step further and hire me to draw up a fitness programme for your own development, please do not hesitate to call. Quite often a couple of sessions with me can guide you in the right direction, you can take control of your own fitness with a little help.

Common myths


Many older people believe that exercise is no longer appropriate. Some of the common misconceptions that prompt older people to abandon physical activity include:


  • Older people are frail and physically weak.

  • The human body doesn’t need as much physical activity as it ages.

  • Exercising is hazardous for older people because they may injure themselves.

  • Only vigorous and sustained exercise is of any use

Other barriers to exercise


Other factors that may contribute to the lack of physical exercise among people over 50 years include:


  • Some older people may have a preference for sedentary activities, such as reading and socialising.

  • The relatively high cost of some sports may exclude some people.

  • Many sports and activities tend to attract young adults, so older people may feel unwelcome.

  • The physical fitness marketplace has failed to include and attract older people


To quell any myths or barriers towards exercise here are just a few of the many benefits towards it:


1. Live longer

According to the World Health Organization, leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of 10 leading causes of death and disability. Even gentle, regular exercise such as light resistance training,walking or swimming can increase lifespan by around three to five years.


2. Prevent falls

Improving muscle strength and bone density can be helpful in reducing the risk of falls as it can also improve balance. The WHO say regular exercise can reduce the risk of having a hip fracture by 40%.


3. Reduced risk of stroke or heart attack

Regular cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or light housework – anything that raises the heart rate - will increase blood flow to the heart and boost your overall health.


4. Better bone density

Weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging can help increase the strength of bones and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures. According to The National Osteoporosis Society, one in two women and one in five men will break a bone due to osteoporosis.


5. Reduced risk of developing dementia

Being sedentary in later years can increase the risk of developing dementia, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study, which analysed more than 1,600 older adults over five years, found that those who did not exercise were more likely to develop dementia than those who did.


6. Prevent or delay disease

Exercise is an effective remedy for many chronic conditions. Studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular activity. It can also help in management of high cholesterol; keeping cholesterol levels within a healthy range can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.


7. More confidence and independence

A study by the Journal of the uk Geriatrics Society examined exercise in the elderly and found that training led to improvements in functional reach and balance and reduced participants' fear of falling.


You see there are no cons to exercise, it really is the best medicine for our bodies, not only is it the best medicine it's also a tonic for our vitality. Lifting us when we are down by energising our mind and spirit. If you haven't tried it, then do, you are never too old.


I could go on and on about the benefits of exercise. I'm 50 next and have been through every emotion in life, exercise has always helped me through the bad times, both physically and mentally. Whatever your age it really could make a new you. 


Shown correctly, encouraged, motivated and delivered with care and attention, I know wholeheartedly that exercising with me will have you wishing you had started years ago.