Exercising Safely When You’re Over 60: Some Golden Rules
Regular exercise is enormously beneficial, regardless of your age. According to a number of studies featured in JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine and other leading medical publications, regular exercise has been shown to increase lifespan, boost cardiovascular health and raise the metabolism, which in turn, helps to reduce weight.
However, whilst exercise is incredibly good for your body, it’s vital to know how to keep fit safely.
Understanding Your Body
Sometimes, it may feel like you still have the energy you did when you were 20. However, it’s important to recognise that your body goes through a succession of changes as it grows older, and is more vulnerable to injury as a result.
As we age, our bones naturally lose density, which leaves them more susceptible to breakage when exposed to high impact. The discs in the spine lose some of their fluid, which means the back is more at risk of injury, and certain joints, such as the hips and knees, naturally develop wear and tear over time.
None of these factors should stop you from exercising. However, you need to keep them in mind when keeping fit, and make sure you work out safely in order to avoid injury.
Warming Up and Cooling Off
One of the most common mistakes when exercising is forgetting to warm the body up properly. Likewise, it’s easy to forget about cooling down effectively, especially when you just want to collapse into the nearest sofa!
However, properly stretching the muscles before exercising is vital, as this will help to reduce stiffness, thus minimizing the likelihood of damage to the body. Focus particularly on the muscles you’ll be using during the exercise. For example, if you’re going for a jog, make sure to stretch out the hamstrings, positioning one leg at a time in front of you, and gently reaching down to pull up the toe. Likewise, after your exercise, make sure you stretch once more. This will help prevent blood from pooling at the extremities.
Choose the Right Activity for You
When it comes to exercising, know what works best for you. If you have problems with mobility, you might prefer doing something low-impact, such as walking, or swimming, which supports your body weight in the water.
If you’re physically fit, don’t be afraid to try something new. There are plenty of exciting exercises for over 60s out there, such as rock-climbing, surfing and Nordic walking. Just always take care to listen to your body and recognise the signs of potential injury. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Protecting the Body from Impact
When working out or engaging in an activity, it’s also a good idea to wear the right clothing. Investing in the right pair of shoes is possibly the most important thing, especially if you’re doing an activity that involves a lot of impact on the feet. Get a pair of trainers that support the foot well, whilst offering protection from repeated pressure.
If you’re concerned about exercising with an existing health condition, arrange a time to speak to your GP, who will be able to offer you helpful advice on how to proceed.