Are you over 50? Here’s why you need to exercise!

Thinking longingly of retirement and the rocking chair? Think again! Older people need exercise just as much as young people. Here are all the reasons why exercise is essential for the over-50s.

Whether you are a 50 or 60 something business man or a 50 or 60 something mother, whose kids have flown the nest, staying active as you get older is a critically important way of staying and feeling younger as those years go by.

Physical decline is thought to be a result of ageing, whereas in reality it’s an end product of simply being less active. Think about this. It’s not just ageing that that forces us to take it easy. A lot of this slow down is in the mind and not the body ,so we must all be careful not to drop into the stereotypical pre-pensioner slow down.

If you keep the body in good shape, it will be more effective in repairing itself when it’s needed too.

In a recent piece of consumer research that we at Prime Fifty carried out with a number of over 50s, the majority of people told us that the most valuable ability they never wanted to lose as they age, was that of mobility. Walking to the shops, playing with the grandkids or just going for a long walk into the countryside.  It’s a simple request and we can all do something which will help us retain this gift….it’s as simple as just doing some regular physical activity and structured exercise.

Physical activity means anything from everyday tasks, like cleaning the house, heavy gardening or walking the dog. Or it might be more specific exercise like keeping fit, cycling, jogging, aerobics, zumba, yoga, pilates, visiting the gym, swimming, golf, football, or tennis. The best type of activity is one that makes you feel warmer and breathe heavier and getting your heart and pulse pumping faster than usual.

The huge benefits of keeping active include:

  • a reduced risk of developing a chronic illnesses and disease
  • a greater likelihood of maintaining or reaching a healthy weight
  • a greater sense of well-being
  • improved sleep and increased day-time vitality

If you stay physically active, you're also likely to stay independent much longer. Exercise will also make you stronger and you'll feel more confident overall.

If you’ve never exercised however, then it’s always best to talk to your doctor first. Your GP is also a good place to start to learn about exercise for your health.

Inactivity and an overly sedentary lifestyle can unfortunately put us at greater risk of a whole host of disease states such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even some cancers.

One can read a lot about how we are now living much older than we used to, many years ago. However, what we want is not just to live longer, but also we want to live our additional years as healthy as possible ie more healthy years with no disabilities.

As we get older, of course, we get the odd ache and pain in our joints and also perhaps find it a little more difficult to lift that box, or the grandkids or even just bend or kneel in the garden. One of the reasons for this is that we are losing muscle mass and becoming weaker as we age. This is nothing new of course, but if we don’t exercise regularly, then this ability to do these various activities will slowly ebb away and we can find ourselves becoming less and less mobile. This in turn makes it even more difficult to be active and therefore we tend to then become even more sedentary… and this then becomes a vicious spiral.

Muscle Wastage and Loss of Strength

As we get older, we tend to start losing muscle mass. In fact we lose around 1% of our muscles every year after 45-50 yrs old and this accelerates too, which means we may have lost up to a quarter of our muscle mass by 65! This is quite a frightening fact, but unfortunately, this is what happens as we age.

If we just let this go unchecked, then we will of course lose strength too, meaning that our ability to run, walk, bend, carry etc will all suffer. All this will lead to us to be less mobile than before and this can only get worse as we age further.

However, with exercise, we can slow down this process dramatically and remain strong and active, and can continue for many years to do what we want, such as play with the grandkids, do the gardening and participate in activities and go for long walks. Some of us may even want to do other more demanding activities like jogging, cycling, weight training in the gym and so on. Whatever we choose to do, we need to enjoy it and this will mean we will keep doping it time and time again….just what we want!

Many scientific studies have also proved that combining exercise with a higher intake of very healthy protein, can help maintain our muscles and also increase our strength too, which must be the right direction to take, if we are to remain healthy and active for as long as possible.