November 21st 2016
The best exercises for staying in shape in your sixties
July 22nd 2015
For a workout plan that works, here’s what the pros had to say when it comes to getting and staying fit in your sixties…
During your sixties, exercise can become an extremely valuable way to increase energy levels, improve flexibility and help relieve painful joints and limbs. So whether your fitness goal is to improve long-term health, to fight the signs of ageing or to help you to keep up with your grandchildren, we’ve asked some of the top pros around for their advice and fitness tips on how to get strong, fit and healthy in your sixties.
What can regular exercise do for me?
As with any age, use exercise as a way to improve both fitness and overall health. There might be however, additional obstacles that need to be overcome in order to reach your fitness aims. These can include heart problems, previous operations or surgery and illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.
However, by making a few tweaks to your regime, you can create an effective programme tailored to your individual needs. Remember to consult your doctor first and then under both their guidance and the advice of our pros, there’s no stopping you from finding something that will not only help you look great but also help address those niggling aches and pains too.
For beginners: Fitness expert James Osborn recommends taking it slowly. “The individual should always ease their way into a programme by starting off with low intensity work undertaken most days of the week and then build up to high intensity workouts.” Seek the advice of a professional and adapt your routine depending on issues such as surgeries, injuries, sore joints and illnesses.
For intermediate levels: According to James, “There is no urgent need to lower the level of ‘workout intensity' too much as you get older. I would commonly recommend switching a high intensity gym workout/interval session with a low impact recovery session like a swim or cycle if there isn’t one already included in your programme. Low impact, moderate intensity sessions like this mean you can train more times a week without feeling exhausted, sore or getting injured. They are also a great way to recover from the tougher workouts.”â¨
For all levels: According to Tegan Haining, Bodyism Performance and Stretch Specialist and Get The Gloss Expert, “Yoga, Pilates and t’ai chi classes are a great way to strengthen the body while relaxing the mind - incorporate them several times a week into any levels of fitness.” She also recommends focusing on exercises that strengthen your core, which in turn will make your body more stable too. She suggests incorporating a band into your workouts which will strengthen the glutes, hips and knees and increase stability too.
The wider health benefits
Cholesterol: James points out, “The most recent studies have suggested that exercise that leads to weight loss decreases the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also known as the ‘bad cholesterol’. It’s also believed that exercise stimulates enzymes that move the LDL from the blood to the liver, where it can be processed and excreted.”
The best type of exercise to lower cholesterol? “Higher intensity exercise like circuits or interval training,” says James. Perfect if your insides are starting to resemble those of a deep fat fryer.â¨
â¨Blood pressure: Regular exercise = a healthy heart. As the heart gets stronger, it will take less force for it to pump blood around the body and therefore result in lower blood pressure. James recommends moderate cardiovascular exercise such as jogging, swimming, cycling or rowing but warns against heavy lifting and strenuous weight training as these will instead put excess strain on the heart.
Diabetes: Regular exercise has been shown to help people manage their diabetes. According to James, “Exercise aids the body’s ability to control its blood sugar levels. This is due to the fact that working muscles use more glucose than those that are resting. Subsequently there is a greater uptake of glucose from the bloodstream, leading to lower blood sugar levels.”
â¨â¨However, caution should be exercised to ensure that it’s done safely. James warns, “Long periods of strenuous activity should be highly supervised and can have a negative effect on people with diabetes, as it can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels by counteracting the effect of insulin.”
He recommends a programme devised in conjunction with your doctor that follows a consistent routine, where you eat your meals, take your medication and workout at the same times every day to ensure that safe blood sugar levels are maintained. Once this has been determined, look to include strength training, jogging, swimming, cycling or interval training at a moderate intensity.
If you have a history of serious injuries or illnesses, make sure that exercise is embarked upon once you’ve consulted both your doctor and a trained fitness specialist to take into account your individual needs, to prevent serious injury and to learn good habits going forward. Above all, listen to your body and don’t push yourself too much.â¨
If you suffer from a heart condition: James warns that heavy lifting and high intensity exercise should be monitored very carefully as this can put extra strain on the heart. “As a general rule, workouts should be kept to a moderate intensity with a healthy balance between work and rest.”â¨ â¨
Post-surgery: For people looking to get back into exercise following an operation, patience is key to ensure that you don’t re-injure the part of your body that was fixed in the first place. James recommends early physical therapy after surgery as part of the rehabilitation process, to help increase the strength of the muscles supporting the joint and to restore a full range of movement at the joint.â¨
If you suffer from specific aches and pains that are holding you back from achieving your fitness goals, we recommend a visit to one of the trained specialists at Pure Sports Medicine whose team of highly experienced sports medicine professionals can address a wide range of problems including sports injuries, work-related injuries, joint pain and arthritis.
Check out our recommendation of Laura Penhaul, a great Physiotherapist who has been tried and tested by the GTG team (she’s previously worked with the GB ski and Paralympic summer sports teams too).