We are getting older and it seems that all is getting harder. Sometimes you really need to grit your teeth. We know exercise keeps us healthy but as we get older we can develop different sorts of barriers to exercise. And whilst some of these factors may not apply directly to you, I am sure there are people you have asked to join you at a class, who would use these excuses, so here are the answers for them too!
“MY JOINTS HURT” To keep moving and minimise pain, opt for low impact activities that don’t stress the joints (so no skipping, jogging or bungee-jumping!). This is why we offer both lower and higher alternatives in our classes. Even if it’s a bit painful to start with, targeted exercise can reduce joint stiffness, pain and the inflammation associated with arthritic conditions. Walking and swimming or other water-based exercises (like aqua aerobics) are perfect. Taking breaks from long periods of sitting so that joints don’t become stiff and painful is important. Try exercises like Yoga or pilates and gentle stretching.
“I’M TOO OLD”
Banish that thought! It’s never too late to start and studies show that even people in their 90s in nursing homes benefit from doing weight-training exercises, staying independent for longer. If you can’t see the point , focus on the numerous health benefits instead, which include strength, flexibility and improved mood, plus all the many benefits listed at the end!
“I’M TOO EMBARRASSED” Most of you are past this stage - but you will have friends out there who feel like this, so encourage them to come with you!
Build confidence by exercising with a friend. If you’re worried about going to a class, bear in mind there will always be people who feel just as uncoordinated, overweight or sweaty as you do! More to the point, virtually everybody will be so engrossed in what they are doing you can bet they won’t actually be staring at you. If you’re still nervous, check exactly what’s involved before you take a class, or just sit in on one first. Alternatively try working out with a fitness DVD at home or simply doing some brisk walking outside where you won’t stand out and you don’t have to wear fitness gear. Wherever you work out, try to ignore what others might think and focus on how important physical activity is to your health.
“I’M TOO TIRED” Bin this thought too – all the evidence shows that exercising will actually build up your stamina, not wear you out! Exercise releases endorphins that help reduce stress and improve your emotional state. An exercise routine will also help you sleep better which means that you will get better rest and start improving your energy levels that way. In other words, if you’re feeling tired, exercise will actually help you feel better! If you’re not convinced, promise yourself you’ll do something active for a manageable 10 minutes – chances are you’ll clear the cobwebs and want to carry on!
“I’M HAVEN’T EXERCISED FOR YEARS AND DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START” New to classes? Got a friend who feels this way too?
Don’t panic! The only rule is to start moving, and if you can keep it simple and fun, so much the better. Taking short walks with a friend is one way to start. Dancing is another. You could decide to get stuck into gardening or even play table tennis as long as the end result is that you enjoy yourself and move more than you did before. If you have pain, or find you get very out of breath when you exercise, you should check with your doctor. If you’re exercising at the right level, it should make your body slightly warmer, your breathing should get faster, but you shouldn’t be breathless. Aim for around 30 minutes of this type of exercise daily. But some physical activity is always better than none.
HOW REGULAR EXERCISE BENEFITS YOUR HEALTH
- Halves your risk of getting type 2 diabetes
- Helps you to feel better about yourself and reduce stress
- Halves your risk of developing coronary heart disease
- Increases levels of HDL (‘good’ cholesterol)
- Reduces high Blood Pressure
- Promotes bone density to protect against osteoporosis
- Helps to control diabetes and prevent long-term complications if you already have the condition.
- Reduces your overall risk of cancer, prevents bowel cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer in women after the menopause
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight in combination with a balanced diet
- Reduces the risk of death or poor health if you’re already overweight or obese
- Reduces your risk of depression and dementia and treats depression
- Improves your sleep.