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Tips for Getting and Staying Active Well Into Old Age

Fitness and activity are important for people of all ages. Bodies were designed to move and when they stop moving, health problems begin to arise. So if you’ve been sitting on the couch for a few years, or you didn't have the time to exercise when you were out at work every day, it’s time to get active, and stay that way for as long as you possbily can. Here’s how:

Find Something You Enjoy Doing

It's unlikely that you’re going to stick with any fitness program unless it feels like fun. So find something that's fun to do. (Rebounding (on a mini-trampoline) does it for me!) 

Start by making a list of activities you enjoy. These may be as basic as walking, which is really great for your health. Or you may enjoy something more technical like ballroom dancing, tennis or golf. And remember you don’t have to choose just one thing. Varying your activities will make you more likely to remain interested and engaged because there'll be less risk of boredom.

Make it easy on yourself...

Some sports or activities just aren’t easy to do because they require tons of equipment, time and/or money. Other activities are incredibly easy to do - dancing and walking require very little equipment and you can do them just about any time you want to. Take a look at your list of things you like to do. How many of them do you avoid simply because they’re complicated or require a lot of effort or you can only do them at certain times or in particular places?

Know Your Fitness Personality

Many people find it easier to be active if the activity is a social one so, if you’re a social person, try to add a social element to your fitness program.  For example, joining or forming a walking club makes it easier to get out the door each morning because you know your friends are counting on you to be there with them.  And, hopefully, not only will you be getting fit, you'll enjoy and benefit from the good company too!

On the other hand, if you’re an introvert and would prefer to exercise alone, consider which activities will support your personality. Hiking, for example, is an activity you can do on your own that offers a number of benefits.  You can do yoga on your living room or bedroom floor.  My rebounder sits in the corner of my dining room and, as well as my early-morning session, I bounce around on it for a minute or two whilst I'm waiting for the kettle to boil or the toaster to pop, as a welcome relief from all the sitting I do as I'm working at my computer.

Pay Attention to Your Current State of Health

It’s all too easy to get excited about a new fitness program or activity. However, if you haven’t been active in a while, it’s a good idea to go slow at first. Talk to your doctor to make sure your chosen activity or activities are safe for you to do. Then start off slowly.

For example, if you decide you're going to start power walking, don’t aim to walk ten miles on the first day and end up wiping yourself out for the rest of the week. Walk for one or two miles and be proud of what you've accomplished.  Then do it again the following day.  As your fitness improves you can add distance to your plan.

The more active you are, the longer you’ll feel healthy, vital and energetic. Researchers at Tufts University found that even the oldest and frailest nursing home residents improved their balance and co-ordination and recovered wasted muscle mass by 300 per cent when they followed a weight-training regimen. 

I'm not suggesting that you should immediately start pumping iron, but if you choose an activity that fits your personality and interests, start off slowly and create a fitness plan that can grow alongside your strength and stamina, you could get a whole new lease of life and feel better than you have in years. Here's to your great health!


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Comments

Jereme

I think one of the most important things you can do when you retire is find a hobby to keep yourself busy. For many it is the perfect time to bring back that hobby they have wanted to pursue.

David Stillwagon

What a great post! I really liked the part about having a fitness personality because it is so important to do things that you feel comfortable doing.

Ann Harrison

Thanks for stopping by, David. I agree - last year I enrolled on a fitness trainer course and I joined a gym at the same time so that I'd know what I was talking about. I hated every minute of it! Yet I've been rebounding for 17+ years and I'd never dream of giving it up voluntarily. Ann

Ann Harrison

Or a dream you gave up on... Thanks for dropping in, Jereme.

Grace

Just getting out for a walk every day can improve your health and well being. We were not designed to be couch potatos, and moving our bodies and challenging our brains keeps our lives interesting and even exciting!

Ann Harrison

Hi Grace, Thanks for joining in. Walking is one of my favourite things to do. I often walk to my local stately home (I'm in the UK) and sit in the coffee shop overlooking the lake before walking back. If I take a notebook and pen with me, I can even fool myself into thinking I'm working... Ann

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