Have you ever thought about exercising for just 5 minutes a day? Of course not, what’s the point in that?
We’ve all been told and read about the benefits of exercising in older age and that’s great advice. The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week for people up to 64 years of age.
We should all aim to do some form of physical exercise every day because as we age it’s even more important to keep mobile. Remember the old adage that ‘what’s good for the body is good for the mind’ and that’s absolutely true because blood not only flows into the muscles when we exercise but also travels into the brain, taking with it extra oxygen and nutrients.
Keeping physically and mentally active going into older age is so important and deciding to embark on a journey to get fitter is a huge step forward and should be one of your top goals. Set achievable targets in terms of weight lost, blood pressure, how long and how often you train etc and check regularly that you’re on track.
Why don’t we exercise?
The barrier to exercise is not normally a physical one (although that certainly is for some) because almost all of us can do something each day, even something like chair yoga for those of us not so mobile is beneficial. The barrier seems to be in our own minds and for a number of reasons we will find an excuse not to exercise, especially if we’ve not exercised for a while, feel like we’re overweight and possibly self-conscious, and think people are staring at us.
Benefits of Exercise
The benefits of exercising are numerous; lower blood pressure, better balance, more strength, better posture, clarity of thought, better sleep and a healthy weight are just some.
How to get started
Well, if you’re not confident in your ability to exercise or not confident in the way you look and feel, then going to a gym is probably not at the top of your list.
Starting an exercise program is a mindset and until you’re more confident, then exercising from home is an option. What you shouldn’t do, is do too much too soon and what you should do, is to talk to your doctor or health professional before you start exercising – this is very important and is the first step.
Exercising as we’ve already said is a mindset and a habit but a good habit and exercising for just 5 minutes a day initially, will get you into that good habit slowly. As we age, exercising, even for just a few minutes has so many more benefits than it does for someone much younger that needs a strenuous workout to make any difference.
The first thing not to neglect is the warm-up and stretching before you start any exercises. This will help to prevent injuries and make your workout more effective.
We could make a very good case for only doing the ‘warm-up and stretching’ part for the first couple of weeks, especially if you haven’t exercised in a long while, as a good warm-up can be pretty tiring and challenging on its own.
Take things slowly at first and build up to a full workout in small steps. You’ve already done the hard part by committing to getting fit.
Strength and Balance
The main exercises should be those focused on strength and balance. A strong core (stomach and back muscles) and legs will help prevent trips and falls in those less able.
Research shows that 1 in 3 adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will have more frequent falls. Focusing on strength and balance exercises is essential to staying mobile and well in older age.