Keeping fit is important for our health, no matter how young or old, but as age begins to catch up, hardcore exercise typically isn't an option. There are, however, plenty of fitness classes available for the more mature among us. We check out some of the options available, and how they could benefit you.
This gentle, low-impact exercise method is a great choice if you struggle with back pain or if you're currently unfit. Focusing on strengthening the core, including abdominal and back muscles, it promotes improved posture, circulation, flexibility and balance, and can help to prevent falls and injury. There are classes up and down the country, no matter what your age or level of fitness.
A great option for those who need to improve their cardiovascular fitness, there's an aerobics class for everyone, whether you're a beginner or an exercise fan. Instructors know that warm up and down is important so you'll be led through the class without risking injury, and though classes are usually aimed at one particular level, the movements can be easily adjusted to suit your own ability. As well as traditional aerobics classes, there are step classes, which burn calories more quickly, and aqua aerobics, which is ideal for those who are overweight or who have joint problems, since it is low impact.
There are many styles of yoga, from the gentle vinyasa, which is perfect for beginners, to the more physically demanding ashtanga. All forms are designed to improve strength and flexibility, and by focusing on the coordination of breathing with movement, you'll develop better control of both body and mind. To get the most out of it, you'll need to keep it up for a sustained period, but it is a fabulous way to condition your body whilst also relieving stress and improving your mood.
The idea of lifting weights in your later life might seem preposterous, but research suggests resistance training can provide major benefits for mature folk. With improved muscle tone comes greater strength and stability, which can help to prevent falls and reduce the onset of age-related muscle decline, osteoporosis and arthritis. From lifting lighter weights to using resistance bands, it's important to start gently and take proper advice or instruction in order to avoid injury. Your local sports centre or gym may be able to provide a personalised plan to start you off, and there are also resources such as the British Heart Foundation Functional Fitness MOT, which runs workshops throughout the country offering advice.
Martial arts are a great way to improve muscle tone and all-round fitness, and you don't need to be Bruce Lee to feel the benefits. Tai Chi is a low-intensity method that improves strength, balance and posture, and because it promotes deep breathing and concentration, it'll benefit the mind too. There are plenty of classes on offer around the UK and you won't need to be fabulously fit to get started. If, on the other hand, you're looking for something a little more strenuous, many martial arts and sports centres run boxercise or kick-boxing sessions.
How do you keep fit in later life? Leave your comments below...