As we get older, many of us are told “take it easy” … “I’ll get that for you” … “let me put everything you need within easy reach” … “take the lift not the stairs” But all that ‘making it easy’ could be doing more harm than good. As we mature, the less we do the less we are able to do and it becomes a vicious circle. To ensure fitness in our mature years, the old phrase “use it or lose it” has never been more true.
Not only will you gain fabulous health benefits by participating in regular movement and exercise, but by joining a regular exercise class you will meet lots of friendly people and have a really enjoyable time! Classes specifically designed for a particular age group or for the more mature adult, even if you have never exercised before, are fantastic at guiding you through the specific exercises and movements. They are also set to music which will add to the fun and also increase co-ordination and balance, improve memory and mood, as well as reducing depression.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS FOR A MATURE ADULT? Bones & Joints
Astoundingly, women over the age of 35 lose up to 1% bone mass per year and post menopause bone mass losses can be up to 3-5% a year, greatly increasing your risk of developing osteoporosis. There is definitely no getting away from the fact that exercise is the best way to help maintain bone density. Weight bearing exercise – activity where you are supporting the weight of your body – will prevent this bone loss. Brisk walking, dancing and weight training/conditioning exercises are all fantastic examples of exercises that will help to prevent this bone loss.
The risk of developing arthritis also increases with age. People with arthritis need to keep their joints moving so gentle mobilising and stretching exercises are recommended daily as well as strengthening exercises which are also important to preserve mobility and minimise future damage.
Strength and power declines with age, strength at about 1.5% per annum and power at 3.5% per annum. This can have significant effects on functional ability and health and as a result we tend to become more and more inactive which only exaggerates the problem further. If we do not continue to use all of our muscles they become weaker and less efficient. As a result of this, the nerves which send the message from the brain to the muscle fibre to contract and work simply die. Therefore, moving and exercising all of your body is vital to maintain overall mobility. Combining muscle strength work with stretching and mobility exercises will significantly help maintain joint and muscle range of movement.
Heart No matter what your age the MOST IMPORTANT reason to exercise is to do with the most essential muscle in our body. We only have one, it has been working for us 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year since before we were born and hopefully for many years to come and without its constant regular pumping action we don’t live! Keeping our heart healthy is the main reason we should all be exercising!
Exercise encourages new blood vessels to grow which increases the blood flowing around your heart and therefore increases the amount of oxygen going around your body. This greatly reduces your likelihood of suffering from heart disease and strokes by lowering blood pressure as well as increasing ‘good’ cholesterol levels and lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood.
Regular exercise will also boost the immune system helping to ward off coughs, colds and infections.
If you exercise regularly you will feel great, sleep better, have lots more energy as well as significantly improving your health. For a healthier, re-energised and fun year why don’t you ‘commit to get fit’!
Fitness Instructor and Nutrition & Weight Management Consultant