According to the 2012 Health Survey for England, just 18% of men and 19% of women aged 55-64 manage to fit in the recommended amount of regular aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise for their age group.
For those aged 65-74, those percentages drop to 17% (men) and 13% (women), figures that fall even further – to 10% and 2% respectively – in those aged 75-85.
While that may be due to health factors, it wouldn’t hurt to know which exercises are best suited to your age bracket…
1. Get started
“It is vitally important for people in their 50s and above to remain active,” says body transformation coach, author and fitness writer, Martin Hutton.
“Many of my clients fall into this age gap and are under the impression that they should move less. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Worryingly, it’s taking it easy and slowing down – “looking after yourself” – that makes us more likely to become frail, weakened and less fit and healthy as we age. Doing any kind of exercise is better than no exercise.
2. Boost mobility with swimming
As we get older, our mobility can become inhibited by joint pain and weaker muscles. An enjoyable and low-impact way of boosting mobility is to go swimming regularly – it works the whole body without damaging joints.
3. Build muscle with small weights
“Basically, movement is essential,” says Martin. “If we stop moving, our muscles deteriorate with time. To prevent this onset of muscles depletion, we must ensure we work our muscles regularly to maintain or, if possible, increase their muscle mass.
“Use some simple weights, either buy 2-4 kilo weights or use water bottles/tins/bags of sugar. Use these to punch out and up to work shoulder and arm muscles excellently.”
4. Work on posture with pilates
Aside from always remembering to sit up straight, resistance training is key for good posture, and to avoid developing a stoop.
Pilates and yoga classes can be found that suit all abilities and ages, and you can ask your teacher for specific exercises that will strengthen your spine.
5. Feel strong
“Our biggest muscles are our glutes and hamstrings and using these is imperative, so if nothing else, ensure plenty of lunging and squats,” explains Martin. “Great for this is a chair; squat down until your bum just touches and then stand and straighten back up.
“Combine this with the upper moves discussed earlier, where you would hold the weights, stand up from squat or lunge position and then punch the arms up or out to give you a more full body workout.”
6. Get social and try a class
It’s tough whatever your age to commit to a regular class or gym habit, so why not mix fitness with fun and join a dance class?
Ballroom dancing is not only great for your social life, but for aerobic exercise that’s not too draining or tiring.
Alternatively, try joining a leisurely walking club.
Always check with your GP before embarking on a new fitness regime, or if you are worried about putting any strain on your body.
How old are you and what’s your exercise of choice? Tell us in the comments box below.