Recently I was interested to read a report into the fitness of people aged 70 plus who exercise, compared to those several decades younger. According to the Royal Voluntary Service research 79% of over 70’s regularly exercise, with walking, playing a sport, exercise classes and the gym all proving popular, with both men and women. It suggests that many older folk can give people 20 years younger a run for their money!
The RVS encourages older folk to be responsible for their own wellbeing, and their volunteers run a broad range of activities to help older folk stay fit and active. The charity believes whatever a person’s fitness and mobility level may be, regular exercise is vital to ageing well. I entirely agree and believe it’s most important to look after yourself at any age. The research found those people who have exercised regularly felt both mentally and physically fit, were supple, strong and full of energy.
I’m of the opinion that many older men and women, including myself, were fortunate to have been children in the 40’s and 50’s, a time when being physically active was just a normal part of childhood. Most of us walked or cycled to school, took part in regular gym classes and playing sport was compulsory. With the result we built healthy, supple bodies and in particular, strong bones, that now keep many of us moving around and enjoying life to the full. I’m particularly interested in the bone disease, osteoporosis, in fact I am writing a book about it, and know from my research how vital it is to build up the “bone bank” in our youth. Strong bones will maintain our posture and literally stand us in good stead as grow older. Weight bearing exercises are necessary for building strong bones and are simply natural movements we regularly did as youngsters, walking, running, climbing trees, skipping and hopping to name a few!
With my “fitness guru” hat on and having grown up during and after the war, it worries me to observe today’s younger people who are far less active than my generation still are. Yes, today they are lucky to have shiny new bikes, skate boards, the latest trainers and fitness gear plus the opportunity to participate in any activity that appeals, but they also have technology. Now I love technology, mobile phones, computers, and TV’s, but unlike many younger people I don’t spend most of my spare time hunched up in front of them.
It has been proven that many of these younger people will not have banked enough bone during their formative years, when their skeleton is developing, to enjoy many years of active life in THEIR old age. Obesity and other health issues often accompany inactivity, plus the associated risk of diabetes, an increasing problem. So, whatever your age “Move it or you might Lose it”!
For more information http://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk
For these exercises you will need a small towel or exercise band
1 SIDE TWIST to keep your spine supple
Stand with your feet apart and lift your arms up to shoulder level. Bend elbows and bring your fingertips together in front of chest. Keep hips facing forward and twist only your upper body and head around to the right. Come back to face centre, then take your upper body around to look left. Repeat 10 times.
Stand with your feet apart and knees relaxed. With your right arm, reach up and over your head, bending your left knee. Bring your arm down and transfer your weight on to your right leg and reach up and over with your left hand. (As if you are climbing up a rope.) Repeat 10 times to alternate sides.
3 TOWEL UP to strengthen bones and keep upper body supple
Stand with feet comfortably apart, and hold both ends of a small hand towel out in front of you at shoulder level. Pull both ends, and keeping the towel taut, lift up and over behind your head. Return up and over to the front. Repeat 10 times, pulling hard on both ends.
4 TOWEL RUB to keep back supple
Hold one end of towel with your right hand, drop other end down behind your back. With left hand reach behind you to grasp the other end and pull towel taught. Extend your right hand up high, then pull the towel back down again with your left, in a sawing motion. Repeat 10 times. Reverse hands and continue 10 times to the other side.