Fitter than ever at 40, 50, 60+


Let’s start with the bad news: your body was at its best at 21. Since then, well, let's not dwell on that, it's too lovely a day.

I know my body is not what it was – sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and the surplus skin makes me look like I’m actually melting. I don’t quite grunt when I stand up or kneel down, but my attempt at a cartwheel in the garden this weekend almost ended in a hospital trip. Is this what drives me to keep adding new classes to my weekly exercise regime? No. My motivator is more than skin deep. I can handle looking like a mal-coordinated melting candle, but what I can’t cope with is feeling like one. And this is a powerful motivator – how exercise makes me feel – mentally and physically.

Whatever our reasons, gyms and sporting events are filling up with the 40+:

“According to sport England, the strongest increase in sports participation in the past decade has been among the 45-54 age group. And it’s not inherently sporty types either, 40% of over 50s who exercise now, say they do it more regularly now than when they were younger. Sport England says running is up 97 per cent on 10 years ago among the over-55s, with cycling up 59 per cent. Gyms, meanwhile, are finding that their best clients are those approaching and beyond retirement”.

What’s also quite interesting is that it’s not just a gentle saunter on the treadmill that us oldies are doing. There is mounting evidence that we’re taking on much more serious physical challenges than ever before. Vanity and health worries do come into it, of course, but another factor driving this is how we look at ageing these days…we no longer consider a person’s age to be an automatic indication of their health or capabilities.

“A recent study by the University of Chicago looked at more than 3,000 people aged 57 to 85 and showed that age played virtually no role in determining differences in health and wellbeing – but mobility and psychological health were key factors in predicting mortality. So forget the number on your most recent birthday card: it’s never too late to discover your inner athlete and get moving.”

And therein lies the good news! There’s so much you can do to look after your 'maturing' body (outside and in). The Guardian recently headlined that keeping fit in mid-life can more than double the chances of healthy retirement. Great for you, AND for those around you…if you don’t look after your health and fitness then your nearest and dearest will suffer too.

The timetable at HRF is ever growing as is the age range of its Clients, so the chances of finding a class and a class mate you like, are high. Richard Brennan, an exercise physiologist and older athlete specialist, says a couple of key pointers for the 40+ about to embark on a new exercise regime are: a/ to warm up properly, and b/ not to under recover.

a/ As you warm up, your tissue becomes more flexible, you have an increased blood supply to the working muscles and that’s when you can start to move through the gears. There’s no need to rush into things.

b/ With regards to recovery, it’s a good idea to allow one of your weekly training sessions to be below threshold – a bit of sweat built up, and heart rate increased just enough to help move around the metabolic waste you’ve built up in more intense sessions.

So if it’s a clear head you need, or a natural euphoric high, the possibility of extra years on your life, a bit of confidence as your body starts to change, being battle ready for the challenges that life brings – whatever it may be, I can’t recommend physical exercise enough. It’s the panacea, whatever your age or stage in life.

“Be fit for living.”

Disclaimer:

I am not a dietician or a nutritionist, and make no claims to the contrary. What is written on this site should not be taken as fact or advice. It is merely an opinion blog.


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