If you’d like to know more about the buzzwords “active ageing” and what it means – read on! It’s the concept of enhancing opportunities to enable people to be active, happy and healthy later in life. Exercising into your latter years has numerous health benefits. In fact, one study found that those who engage in at least three hours of recreational sport a week for 10 years between the ages of fifty and sixty could increase the life expectancy of formerly sedentary individuals.
Julie Robinson, optimal ageing expert and founder of fitness initiative, Move It or Lose it, explains.
“People are living longer than ever before and because of this, attitudes towards ageing are changing. It is no longer expected that you slow down in your later years. And, in fact, the opposite is now being promoted. It’s great to see such a positive shift in messaging and with musculoskeletal conditions being the leading cause of disability in the UK, it’s never been more important for people to prioritise joint health and keep active at any age.”
Although numerous studies have concluded that physical activity is a key contributor to longevity, you should ensure you’re exercising in accordance with your age and ability. A routine which worked in your twenties may no longer be suitable. So what exactly should someone over the age of fifty be doing to keep fit?
Whilst younger adults often go straight into high-intensity workout routines which can run the risk of injuries, older adults have a natural decline in bone health and muscle mass. There’s also hormonal changes for women to contend with.
Unfortunately, many women find their joints suddenly become stiff and painful during perimenopause and menopause, which inevitably deters a natural desire to keep fit. Interestingly, joint pain affects as many as 40% of all menopausal women and joint stiffness is the most common contributor to impairment of quality of life and work in women of a menopausal age.
Julie Robinson comments: “Joint pain may not subside when hormones level out after the menopause. But there are many lifestyle changes that can help ease the pain and prevent it from getting worse. Commonly affected joints include the knees and hips so be sure to implement some specific exercises to support these areas. Walking is a great low-impact exercise which supports both the knees and hips. Walking helps to keep the joints flexible and strengthens the surrounding muscles.”
Julie also recommends tailoring your fitness routine to incorporate both low-impact exercises and strength training.
“If you’re over fifty, try to tailor your exercise regime to accommodate for natural changes in joint health. I’d even recommend adding in gentle strength training to help build up lost strength from an age-related decrease in muscle mass. Weights can often feel intimidating but start off small and go at your own pace. Research suggests that when done regularly, strength training can help preserve bone density, independence and vitality.”
Help Relieve Discomfort
Staying active in your later years is imperative to help prevent physical decline. However, for the 20 million people in the UK suffering with a musculoskeletal condition such as arthritis, keeping up with a substantial exercise routine is not always possible.
Julie says, “Although I’m an advocate for active ageing, conditions such as arthritis can have a great impact on our desire to exercise. Pain and discomfort often accompany chronic health conditions, with many believing that exercise will exacerbate symptoms. In fact, keeping active can actually help relieve discomfort by reducing joint pain whilst increasing strength and flexibility. For those looking for additional support, joint movement may be made easier through the addition of a clinically backed supplement, such as GOPO® Joint Health which in numerous studies has been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness.”
Credits: Author Yvonne McKenzie and Magazine The People's Friend
Research by Sport England shows significant reduction in physical activity among the older (75+) population since the pandemic began. In fact, their data suggests up to 49% of the over 75’s are inactive.
This is a worrying trend given how important exercise is for our physical and mental well-being, especially as we age.
How our bodies change as we age:
How exercise benefits the ageing body:
There can be no doubt that exercising in a group is one of the best ways to enjoy more exercise:
It’s never too late to make a positive change to your lifestyle, starting out slowly with a daily walk and some gentle strength exercises can make a big difference to your mobility and strength. Joining a class such as Move it or Lose It is a great way to get into regular exercise without putting unnecessary pressure on your body.
As with all exercise it’s important you check with your doctor before starting anything new, especially if you haven’t exercised in a long while.
We are excited to share that Amanda was featured in the Instructors Spotlight at Move It Or Lose It this month. You can read her interview here:
Instructors Spotlight - Move It Or Lose It
This month we had a catch up with one of our instructors, Amanda Abbott, who runs her classes at various locations in Lincolnshire. We asked Amanda a few questions and here's what she had to say.
How did you find out about the FABS course?
I saw an ad on Facebook.
What did you do before becoming a Move it or Lose it instructor?
I'm a level three personal trainer and hold Level 3 Designing Exercise Programmes for the Senior Population too, so I did personal training and a couple of "chairobics" classes.
What made you want to do the FABS course?
It seemed like the natural progression from the courses I'd already done.
What do you love most about being an instructor?
Seeing people improve. Seeing their faces when something 'goes right'.
Have you had any funny moments in your classes?
So many! Once doing the pass the baton around the circle game, I had left my bag of spare batons behind a gentleman (the group joker!). Every time I called 'stop' to get the group to do a move in between the passing there seemed to be an extra baton! Then there were two extra batons.
Every time there were more and more batons in the circle. The gentleman in question kept dipping into the bag of spares and adding them into the circle. It took me quite a while to work out what was happening. Meanwhile a few in the circle had worked it out or had seen the extra batons being added.
I couldn't believe I was so slow to pick up on what was happening. We had a great laugh that day!
What's your favourite music track to use in a class?
I don't really have a favourite. I plan my routines to last for around 6 weeks. Every routine has a bit of a theme, so at the moment I'm doing Autumn/Halloween.
Amongst the tracks being used at the moment we've got Time Warp and Thriller for the aerobic section; Ghost Town by The Specials for the strength section and Autumn Leaves for the cool down. I like a good box step to the right music as you can really get into the beat - my groups like it too!
What would you say to anyone thinking about doing the FABS course and becoming an instructor?
Be prepared for a lot of hard work, working out playlists and routines are very time consuming. But the sense of achievement when you deliver a good routine; when the group all works together in unison; the smiles on the clients faces and the laughter make this a very rewarding occupation.
What are your hobbies?
Open water swimming, cycling (road and off-road), taekwondo. gardening, baking and sewing.
What is your favourite food?
Any recipe with lamb!
What is your favourite TV programme?
Tricky this - I always forget when dramas are on so I'll watch one episdoe then forget it's on. I'm not good with catch-up tv.
The Great British Sewing Bee and Great British Bake Off are my 'must see' programmes though.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I love going for long walks with my dog (Cocker Spaniel called Bailey) and will organise my weekly schedule so that I have one afternoon a week to go for a lovely long walk in the local countryside.