It’s Never Too Late in Life to Start Exercising

“The proportion of people who are physically inactive increases sharply with age, particularly after the age of 55”. (The State of Ageing 2022 online report)

I wonder how many of these people just think that they are ‘too old’ to start exercising, because many times I have heard age used an excuse to avoid physical activity.

On occasions I have been asked by people of retirement age (or older) if they are too old to exercise, frequently by sons and daughters already training with me, who are enquiring on behalf of their parents. The main concerns include;

1            coming to exercise late in life could be dangerous

2            they might find it hard to do the exercises properly and get embarassed or feel self-conscious

3            they might hinder other clients

4            it’s probably too little too late to do them any good

5            they might be too ‘hard work’ for me..!

Let me dispel all of these worries.

First, it doesn’t matter how old or infirm you are. As long as you have “clearance” from your doctor that there are no underlying health issues which might be exacerbated by exercise, you can start the ball rolling.

It’s also a good idea to seek professional advice (such as from a Personal Trainer) on appropriate exercises for you when taking into account your strength, flexibility, mobility and co-ordination. This allows the right exercise plan to be created for your needs and capabilities. Approached in this way then any risk is kept to an absolute minimum.

Second, a carefully and sympathetically-planned exercise routine can be devised for any level of mobility, strength or ability. Any good PT will be able to create a “menu of moves” that takes into consideration their client’s needs and capabilities and deliver it personally to ensure there are no risks of injury in performing the exercises. A professional PT can always devise exercises for someone with limited mobility or who is lacking confidence.

Third, if exercising in a group without 1-1 instruction you can feel like you are ‘holding others up’ if you are at a different fitness level to others. Guess what? EVERYONE IS AT A DIFFERENT LEVEL TO EVEYRONE ELSE! A good instructor will recognise this in a class and adapt routines where possible to accommodate. However – one of the key benefits of engaging a personal trainer is that expert advice is provided, you can receive the tools and guidance to feel more confident in group exercise (or solo!) and a good PT will never make you feel like a failure!

Fourth, there is a host of reasons why exercising at any age yields tangible benefits.

So, for our “first time” slightly more mature clientele or latent exercisers what does correctly-rescribed exercise offer them?

  • It helps keep the heart and lungs healthy. It’s what maintains controlled blood pressure and the older we get, the more we need to ensure we keep this well-managed.
  • Stronger joints. Believe it or not, even though bone surfaces can be worn down as we age (linked with loss of muscle mass that also comes with ageing) the right type of exercise – guided by your PT – can help retain your muscle and tendon health for longer which can prolong protection for your joints and possibly increase bone density in many cases.
  • Balance & Stability. Deterioration of muscle mass can also have an impact on your stability, causing you to find it harder to maintain your balance. Again, exercise can assist in preserving muscle mass which can have a beneficial impact on your ability to maintain your balance which reduces the risk of falls.
  • Mental Well-Being. This is a proven benefit which pertains for exercisers of any age. Exercise can actually help relieve stress.
  • Regular exercise can improve your confidence and self-esteem.
  • As you exercise you will start to get a feeling of achievement.
  • Exercising regularly can lower the chances of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and arthritis. At the very least it can help you manage these conditions if you have developed them.

And finally, professional instructors should never show irritation with clients – we’re here to LIFT YOU UP not PUT YOU DOWN!

Remember

It is good to be active and keep moving rather than lead a sedentary life.

Exercise keeps you mobile and flexible. And lack of mobility need not be a hindrance if you have professionally-designed exercise programmes.

Footnote

Currently I have 8 clients of 60 and over and I devise personal exercise plans for all of them. I am working with one client who has had a total knee replacement on both legs – living proof that limited mobility is no obstacle to properly-planned exercise.

Acknowledgements and further reading

https://ageing-better.org.uk/health-state-ageing-2022

The Benefits of Exercise For Older Adults in Later Life – Exercise.co.uk

Staying active in later life | Independent Age

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