For the final blog in our series on how to live better for longer, we're focusing on probably the most important factor for us all to lead a healthier life: exercise. Nowadays it's more common to live a sedentary lifestyle than not. Whether you're bent over a computer screen in the office or at home or you're lounging on the sofa trying to squeeze in just one more episode of Bridgerton before heading to bed, we all spend a lot of our time sat down, and exercise tends to fall to the wayside.
As we age, the effects of this sedentary lifestyle become more and more dangerous for our bodies. Studies show that more desk-based workers die in middle age from heart attacks than those who move around for their work. We want you to counteract this by integrating exercise into your daily routine in simple, easy ways that won't disrupt your lifestyle dramatically. We've come up with a few pointers on how to keep yourself moving as the ultimate anti-ageing strategy
A gradual decline in your strength and stamina can position you at a difficult point for exercising later in life. Our advice when this happens? Don't expect yourself to be able to jump in to a 10k run or 100 push-up right from the get-go. Unless you're already maintaining a fitness regime, muscle tone and strength will decrease over time and unfortunately for us humans, it takes time to build this up again!
We recommend starting with something manageable that's suited to your ability level. Whether that's taking a brisk walk around your neighbourhood, going on a gentle bike ride, or attending a pilates class once a week, just do it and stick to it. We should all be aiming to take 10,000 steps a day, regardless of your age. Give yourself the goal of reaching this umber each day and hold yourself accountable. Buy yourself a FitBit or a similar step count tracker. Having a tangible number as your goal can often makes things easier.
Get yourself into Pilates or Yoga for flexibility and core strength. You can get DVDs, watch videos on YouTube and exercise from your own home. If you're feeling more bold, you can join a gym. This is also a great way to meet new people (check out our other blog on community) and you'd be surprised at home many middle-aged people will be there - it's more than you think!
Swimming is a fantastic way to exercise later in life. It's amazing for your hearts and cholesterol, works your heart and almost every other part of your body, and is gentle on your joints. It can also reduce muscle inflammation, improve sleep and reduce stress.
If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can look into open-water swimming. This trend blew up during the pandemic and is showing no signs of slowing down. Open water swimming is exhilarating, amazing for your body and gives you a huge rush of endorphins, so it's great fro your mental health as well. In Maxted's article, she tells us that " Cold water in particular benefits a range of systems involved in the ageing process. Noradrenaline, a critical neurotransmitter and part of our fight or flight response, rises fourfold on cold water exposure — and it’s released in brain areas that control emotions, concentration and memory". So, don't be surprised if it's a shock to your system. Just make sure you remember to wrap up warm and eat well after! There a plenty of open-water swimming groups all over the country which are free to join and a great way to meet new people as well.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that you're stronger than you think. The human body is capable of amazing things and has huge potential that just needs to be unlocked. Find what works for you and try to stick with it. If you're finding it hard to stay motivated, exercise with a partner who will hold you accountable and help you keep on track. This can be a gym buddy, a partner or friend.
You will hit roadblocks along the way but this is natural and to be expected. Not every day can be a success day and sometime we have to take hits to get better. Keep this in mind and go easy on yourself if progress is slower than you'd like
Laughter and fun are so important when trying to stay active and exercise. Laughing itself burns calories and releases endorphins similar to those released during exercise. Stay happy, keep smiling and remember to not take it too seriously!
Lifedock is the UK’s leading instructor training provider of creative, fun and effective physical activity programmes. They are uniquely designed to bring safe and effective exercise for a range of special populations, including frail and elderly, young people, children, people with learning and physical disability and people with mental health conditions. Courses include Chair based Exercise Instructor, Drum Based Exercise Instructor and Tai Chi Instructor (Chi Me) . Click here for the full range of our courses.