Best Exercise for Remaining Active as you get Older

Keeping active is an important part of remaining healthy no matter your age. But as you get older, you might find it increasingly difficult to get out of the house and get the exercise your body needs.

The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity and strength exercises at least 2 times a week - providing you have no health conditions that limit your mobility.

For many people this may seem like a lot of exercise. The recommended levels of activity stated above equate to just over 20 minutes a day of cycling or walking everyday each week, or other moderate activities also listed on the link above.

Switching out the car for a bike for a trip into town, or getting a dog so that you walk each day can be a great way of improving your levels of daily exercise.

If finding 20 minutes a day for moderate exercise is difficult, the NHS states that as a general rule of thumb, 1 minute of vigorous activity equates to the same health benefits of 2 minutes of moderate activity. Therefore, a more vigorous exercise will be more time-efficient than a moderate one.

But regardless of what the NHS recommends, any increased level of exercise can have incredible health benefits as well as helping with people’s general mood and happiness. It’s well documented that when you exercise, your body releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in the body as well as diminishing the perception of pain.

Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, ward off feelings of depression and boost sleep. As well as providing a number of direct health benefits such as strengthening your heart, lowering blood pressure, improving joint mobility and reduce blood pressure to name just a few.

With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that the NHS recommends that everyone tries to get active. So we’ve put together a list of activities aimed at helping you get moving, so that you can enjoy all the benefits of an active lifestyle as you get older.

Swimming

Swimming is a great full body exercise that is ideal for any age, ability or range of mobility.

Not many exercises can claim a full body workout. But swimming truly works your entire body; building strength and endurance, toning muscles and increasing your heart rate without stressing the body.

When you swim, around 90% of your body weight is supported by the water. This weightless environment makes swimming an especially effective exercise for those who struggle with arthritis or disability, especially those that make high-impact exercises difficult.

Whether your an adept swimmer or just starting out, your local recreation centre will have sessions that suit your individual needs. You’ll find classes for different age groups and levels, women-only sessions and adult-only beginner lessons. Or you can take part in water aerobic classes and make the most of the water without the need to swim.

Find a local pool near you and enjoy the benefits of swimming.

Tennis

Tennis is another sport that can be played regardless of one’s physical fitness. It may look like the game requires some serious levels of fitness when watching the professionals on TV, but if you can find a partner or group of a similar ability and level of fitness as yourself, the game can be played at a leisurely pace whilst retaining it’s competitive dimension.

Tennis was found to be the best sport to protect people from an early death in a study conducted by Oxford University. The findings suggested that those who played racquet sports were less likely to die over the study period, reducing their individual risk by 47% compared to those who did no exercise.

It’s effectiveness was said to not be just as a result of the physical activity associated with playing tennis, but instead compounded by the social aspect which involve clubs and organised activities outside of the game. Larger social networks, which can be developed through being a member of a tennis club, are proven to be good for people’s health.

Golf

Much like tennis, golf is a sport that often involves a membership to a club in order to play regularly and cost-effectively.

Joining the local golf course can connect you with other players and people in the local area and they often hold a whole range of events and competitions throughout the year that you can get involved in.

Golf is a game of skill that requires very little physical exertion, meaning anyone can pick up a set of clubs and hone their skills. It is recommended that you get yourself a few lessons with the club pro to learn the basics as the technique can be a little hard to pick up straight away.

Playing a round of golf can alleviate stress by being outside in an often tranquil setting, provide an opportunity to socialise with friends as you play, as well as having health benefits as a result walking round the course.

Walking

Perhaps one of the oldest and most common forms of exercise. Often overlooked as an effective way to exercise, walking has incredible health benefits especially given how taken for granted it is.

Walking is incredibly natural to the human body, with much of our evolution over the last 6 million years making us incredibly efficient up-right walkers. It’s no wonder it’s so good for our overall health. A brisk, 30-minute walk 5 days a week can make you feel good, reduce stress, improve mobility and help to manage your weight and sleep.

Regular walking, like other forms of moderate exercise, can have the effect of reducing the likelihood of developing some chronic illnesses such as: heart disease, stroke, asthma, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, obesity and depression.

Improve your motivation by investing in a pedometer to help track your progress and push you to walk further each day, or join a local walking group to make friends to walk with.

Yoga

Is an ancient form of exercise that originated in India some 5000 years ago. It composes of a range of movements, stretches and postures aimed at improving strength, flexibility, breathing and mental wellbeing.

The benefits of regular yoga are so well documented that it’s now commonplace in leisure centres, health clubs, schools, hospitals, surgeries and even being adopted in the workplace.

The list of physical health benefits associated with practising yoga are extensive, they include: increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, weight reduction, cardio and circulatory health and protection from injury just to name a few.

Yoga can be helpful with preventing falls as it improves your balance through strengthening the lower body - particularly ankles and knees - which helps to reduce the chance of you falling.

Due to yoga’s increasing popularity, there are classes to suit any ability and fitness level. Generally, yoga will require getting up and down from the floor whilst practising the exercises. However, some classes will be chair-based to offer those with limited mobility the chance to also benefit from yoga.

Yoga also boasts some incredible mental health benefits. Combining the physical movements with breathing exercises and meditation can create mental clarity and calmness - through centering attention and reducing stress.