Fit After 55

Walking is not enough.

I gave a presentation with a local GP this week, discussing the role that exercise plays in helping to prevent chronic health conditions commonly associated with an increase in age - conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and falling.

One of the questions that I got asked - and indeed, what is commonly asked in our clinics by our clients over the age of 55 - is walking enough?

And the resounding answer is no.

Walking, or aerobic exercise, is a great way to get your daily dose of vitamin D, and is great for your health. But in terms of strengthening your muscles, and fighting off disease, its only one piece of the puzzle.

Below are the basic guidelines that people over the age of 55 should adhere to.

1. Cardio

"Basically anything that uses your full body to get your heart pumping."

— At least 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a day

— This includes brisk walking, running, swimming, biking, or exercise videos

— If you don't have time in your day for the full 30 minutes, try three 10 minute bouts of exercise throughout the day

2. Strength training

A common belief is that, as we get older our muscles are getting smaller. We can change this by strength training. The other thing we see is that mature adults have higher fat content. There is more diabetes due to lower muscle mass, so strength training is essential to regulate glucose metabolism.

Work those muscles twice a week for 30 to 45 minutes by doing exercises such as:

— Pushups (if you're a beginner, do them against a wall to start)

— Using a resistance band which is light weight and inexpensive

— Bicep curls and tricep extensions

— Modified squats and lunges which works many muscles at once

3. Flexibility training

With reduced flexibility people tend to lose their ability to balance because there are changes in connective tissues in the body. Regular stretching can help, even as little as five to 10 minutes a day

— To start the day, try some head circles and stretching in the shower

— At the end of day, stretch calf muscles and hamstrings

4. Balance training

Because we see in older adults a loss of balance, which results in more falls.

— You can do this standing in line at the grocery store

— Stand on one leg and see if you can let go of the shopping cart

— Hold for about 10 seconds

— Also try standing on your tippy-toes and holding for a few seconds

— Balance should be done everyday — all you need is two to three minutes

It is absolutely possible to increase your fitness, get stronger and lose fat over the age of 55. To find out about the programs we have on offer - contact us today