Why exercise matters as you get older
It is easy to find reasons to slow down our exercise habits as we age, and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. We may have health problems, weight issues or worries about injuries and pain, any of which can lead us to want to exercise less.
But studies show that rather than hanging up our tennis shoes once we hit 50, we should really be upping our game – or at the very least implementing a regular exercise routine that improves our balance, core strength and flexibility. At the same time, we need to nurture our whole selves and take care of nutrition and mental wellbeing.
It’s been proven over and over that physical activity is the best contributor to longevity – even if you do not start working out until your later years – as it will improve your quality of life during those years. Exercise helps combat the natural reduction in muscle and bone density that occurs with age.
Regular exercise is good for the mind, our general mood and can help what can sometimes feel like a dwindling memory. Not to mention adding energy to our daily lives. It is great for the heart and blood pressure too while staving off those age-related illnesses and helping to maintain physical independence for longer.
As we age our bodies start to produce less of the vital hormones needed to keep us feeling strong and healthy. Many exercises can delay this steady decline keeping us fresh, energised and on the ball mentally too.
Here we explain how to keep that spring in our step in later years.
Physical health feels great
As we age our metabolism naturally slows down and maintaining a healthy weight can be an ongoing challenge. Regular exercise will help building muscle and increase our metabolism which in turn will help us to burn more calories.
Exercise will increase our general mobility, balance, and flexibility. This will ensure that we have a strong core to help with coordination and balance which will keep our bones stronger for longer.
It is proven that people who exercise tend of have a better immune system, and it will stave off lower blood pressure and illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
Exercise should include a range of activities – don’t stick to just one thing, such as swimming. Even if you just start with 15 minutes of walking per day, this will help get you started with moving more and feeling strong. Over time you can build on that routine to include hill walking and maybe even some running.
Stay sharp and stay happy
Regular exercise will boost your self confidence and self-esteem and is a natural way to relieve stress. The endorphins produced can reduce feelings of anxiety or depression which are unpleasant at any age.
Attending regular fitness classes will help you meet new people, who share your interests, creating a social element to keeping fit. Working out with friends is one of the best ways to maintain an exercise programme over the long term without giving up.
Even low impact exercise can improve your cognition and memory in just six months. A recent review of studies into exercise and cognition in the over-50s found that “thinking and memory skills were most improved when people exercised the heart and muscles on a regular basis.”  It helps increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, helping you keep sharp and think more clearly.
Exercise will stimulate physiological changes which reduce insulin resistance (a risk factor for developing diabetes) and inflammation.
5 ways to keep fit at St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club
We should never forget the importance of mental health when thinking about overall wellbeing. As we get older and our circumstances change, our mental health needs develop. We may find we need more mental stimulation, especially after retirement. And if we’re going through loss or bereavement, then keeping a healthy social life can be essential.
Structure and routine are, for many older people, key to keeping happy and healthy but after retirement this can be lost.
Loneliness is difficult, but nobody needs to be alone. We recommend joining one of the many social events at St. George’s Hill which offer the chance to learn new skills, keep your brain sharp with games such as Bridge, and push the boundaries of your knowledge with talks and lectures.