GENERATION FIT GAP
They say that age is no barrier! So whether you’ve just been given the key to the door or are drawing your pension, nothing should get in our way of achieving full fitness.
While a twenty-something might not enjoy the same activity as their sixty-plus grandparent; there is something out there for everyone. It’s important for everyone to fit in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week – no matter what stage of life you’re at. Giving you no excuse not to get moving and keep moving, the Sports Council for Wales has come up with some great tips, with activities you can fit into your day and the rewards they’ll bring.
It’s easy to ignore an exercise regime when you think you’re already fit, but putting in the effort now is great insurance for a long and healthy future. This is the point when many of us start our working career and end up sitting in front of a computer for most of the day, so it’s important to make the most of your free time.
The best time to build healthy bones is in your teens and twenties, the time when your body is still building up the strength of your bones. These early years can see you develop strength, endurance and maximum flexibility, which can be difficult to achieve as time marches on. You might not have to worry about your weight now, but statistics show that as a nation we're getting fatter. Developing a good level of fitness now and finding a routine you can fit into your day means you’re more likely carry on in later life.
Varying activities and cross-training is important; now is the perfect time to try out a range of activities to find out what suits you. Try anything from dancing, cycling, running or soccer and then pick what you enjoy – there should be nothing you can’t do!
Not only will you be fitter and healthier, you’ll also be looking and feeling better. Staying in shape now means you won’t face the uphill task of starting from scratch in later life.
The halcyon time of life! You're fulfilling goals to improve your quality of life. Perhaps you're just starting a family or are well into several years of marriage and parenthood. You may have increased responsibilities at work, or you've decided to become active in your community. Whatever the case, it is important to make time for yourself. These situations can be simultaneously gratifying and stressful!
Fitting in exercise might seem laughable when you’ve a long list of other things you need to do first, but remember that 30 minutes 5 times a week is all you need to commit – that’s just 1.5% of your total time in a week.
Your metabolism will start to slow as when you reach your late thirties, but making time for physical activity offset this, helping you keep a healthy weight.
At this time of life, the metabolism slows down and this change can result in gaining more total body fat and losing muscle mass. A combination of regular cardiovascular and weight-resistant exercises is crucial in maintaining good health so why not start an activity audit and see just how active you are and – more importantly - how active you can be!
To give you a realistic perspective, invest in a pedometer and aim to build up to the recommended 10,000 steps per day. Start some upper-body toning exercises to enhance bone density and if you don't have time to spend hours at the gym, pop in an exercise DVD and work out at home, try skipping, go swimming or, better yet, just walk. Increased activity of all kinds can be used instead of a formal exercise program.
It might mean walking the kids to school, cycling to work, going for a walk or jog in your lunch break, or starting an exercise class in the evenings.
You’ll have more endurance whether you’re working, gardening or playing with the kids. Work, family or friends all take up time, so sometimes doing something that's yours alone is just what's needed.
It's been said that 40 is the new 30! Perhaps you're settled into a lifestyle that includes a family or a career, and care-giving could extend to elder family members or grandchildren. Celebrate these years, but don't think for a minute that your maturing body is operating the same way it did a decade ago!
Can you remember when no part of your body sagged, drooped or wobbled? Why did it all go wrong when you hit mid-life?
We all long for the body and energy we had in our younger days, but if your fitness has slipped and your skin has sagged, remember it’s never to late to make a difference.
Muscle mass is lost, metabolism slows down, bones lose density, flexibility and strength decline and body fat increases; regular exercise can counteract this. Keeping active can also reduce the health risks that your body is more susceptible to in later life. Physical activity halves the risk of having a stroke, improves chances of surviving a heart attack and lowers blood pressure and the risk of diabetes. Are you still asking ‘why should I bother?’
Exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating it out in the gym or cycling for miles on our bike – anything that raises your heart rate is worth the effort. Those who prefer an individual sport can take up walking or swimming, but if you prefer company, there are a number of clubs and classes across Wales that will cater for your needs. Whittle off that spare tire by doing a combination of cardiovascular and strength-training exercises for 30 minutes, five days a week. If you have joint problems, avoid high-impact exercises that could cause damage. It is also a good age to start incorporating a stress-reducing activity with weight-bearing benefits such as yoga or Pilates, into your weekly routine.
As well as helping shift those extra pounds that crept on without you even realising, exercise will also give you more energy and relive stress and depression. Joining a club or taking part in classes is a great way of socialising and meeting new people.
Statistics show that we take less exercise as we get older. By the time we reach our fifties, few of us take regular exercise. It’s really important to break the
The risk of Osteoporosis becomes far greater for both men and women once they reach the 50 mark. Although genetics come into play, lifestyle factors can influence the building of bone mass. You might find yourself suffering from back pain for the first time, but you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to rest in bed – your bones and muscles will get weaker. Gentle exercise is a great treatment and can speed recovery.
The new breeds of ‘nifty fifties’ sweeping the nation are accentuating the fact that getting up and active in later life has never been so popular!
Weight-bearing exercise is best for building bones, such as walking, dancing and ball games. Swimming is an ideal exercise for all ages, as it strengthens the muscles while the water supports the body and prevents injury. Leisure centre’s are now targeting more activities towards the older generation with classes specifically for the over 50’s.
Your quality of life will almost certainly improve through increased exercise. Exercise lifts your mood and raises your energy levels. Sitting around not doing much, on the other hand, makes you feel sluggish and unable to do anything. If you have trouble sleeping, your body and mind will feel as though they've done something and are ready for rest at night.
They say old age doesn’t come on its own, but exercise can keep what comes with it to a minimum! Studies have shown that ‘exercise deficiency syndrome’ is the biggest risk we face as we get older. People confuse lack of fitness for the signs of ‘getting on’ so, for example, when walking up stairs becomes a problem we take the lift.
While you may have retired from the daily grind at the office, there’s no reason for you to give up on keeping active – especially with all that extra time on your hands! While rest and relaxation is important as you get older, it’s vital that you fit in regular exercise to stay active, healthy and independent. There are no side effects from careful, well targeted exercise when it’s done correctly. Some people need to be careful about what exercise they do and how they do it, including those with heart disease and, osteoporosis, arthritis and asthma. Even so, everyone can do some form of exercise and it will help improve each of these conditions if carefully managed.
There is more exercise value than you might think in being on your feet. Going up and down stairs, lifting, doing housework, gardening and DIY all help to prevent bone loss, maintain strength and help balance and flexibility. If you want to try something new, classes at fitness centres and gyms are open to all – you might find you’ve an undiscovered flair for dance or a talent for Tai Chi.
Why not take the plunge! - if you're 60 yrs or over and looking to try something different then the Welsh Assembly Governments ‘Free Swimming Initiative’ aimed to get people healthier and more physically active may be just what you're looking for.
During selected sessions people aged 60 yrs and over are able to access swimming pools for FREE in Wales. If swimming laps aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other water activities you could try. Try walking or running in water, which many people find easier to do than on land. Treading water can be exhausting but will help tone your legs and arms.
Where to start… It benefits your heart making it stronger and reducing the risk of heart disease. It’s also vital for maintaining muscle strength and bone density, which decline with age. Your immune system will be boosted, which will not only ward off colds and flu, but may even lower the risk of many cancers. People who exercise also have more energy and are more alert than those who are sedentary. So what are you waiting for – keeping up with the grandchildren doesn’t have to be such hard work!