We asked the experts for their top fitness tips for staying healthy, active and motivated as you get older
Staying fit in your seventies needn’t be as scary as it sounds. While it would be completely understandable at this stage to want to sit back and enjoy a well-deserved break from working life, exercise can actually help you make the most of these years. Making fitness a priority is one the best things that you can do to ensure a healthier, longer and better quality life.
What should I address?
Fitness expert James Osborn recommends to “Focus on improving your proprioception, the body’s ability to know where your different limbs/parts of the body are at any one time and how much strength is being applied. This is key to staying fit, healthy, keeping joints mobile and preventing falls.”
James points out that one of the main problems that people within this age bracket encounter is balance: “Your balance and reaction speed diminishes as you get older, which makes some exercise choices more dangerous and risky.” He advises trying to avoid exercises that require high levels of balance and/or coordination such as martial arts or combat exercises.
If you’re new to exercise or have any lingering aches and pains, consult your doctor before embarking on anything new and ensure that all exercises are under the supervision of a trained professional.
1. Try activities that mirror your interests and stick to a routine: According to fitness pro David Higgins, “Do what you enjoy - maybe something social like dancing. Whatever it is, go with your partner or friends as you will keep yourselves motivated.” Once you’ve made the decision to get fit, stick to it as best as you can. He adds, “Make it a priority. Put it in your diary and keep it there. Consistency is the building block to creating habit.”
2. Get out and about: TenPilates Master Trainer Luke Meessman stresses the importance of making conscious fitness choices in order to be as active as possible. “Move as much as you can, including simple weight bearing exercise such as getting up and down stairs and walking up escalators. Weight bearing and resistance exercise is good for maintaining the health of the body’s bones - important for keeping osteoporosis in check.”
3. You don’t need to live and breathe in the gym: TenPilates Trainer Jason Reynolds suggests improvising with equipment that you may have at home. “Cans of beans and bottled drinks make perfect hand weights for bicep curls and lateral raises; sitting on a chair with a soft cushion will make you activate your core and glutes to stop you wobbling around and just a few trips up and down the stairs will get those leg muscles working hard - not to mention your heart!”
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4. Work out your kinks: TenPhysio Sports Therapist Evelyn Kummer recommends having a good sports massage, especially if you haven't been looking after yourselves recently. “It can really benefit your general health and fitness by releasing tension that has been building up for a while.”
5. Start the day right: TenPilates Trainer Johanna Francis suggests giving your day a boost from the very start. “Drink a cup of lukewarm water with a slice of lemon every morning before anything else. It’s great for the skin, aids digestion and kick-starts your liver and kidney functions.”
6. Don’t be a slouch: Master Trainer Adam Ridler stresses the importance of good posture: “Think tall, use your postural muscles, sit up straight and draw your shoulders back to eliminate stooping!”
How often? James recommends incorporating the below into your workout plan, aiming for around two to three times a week.
Cardiovascular work: Look to incorporate moderate to low impact exercises into your routine to improve fitness levels without causing injury. According to James, “Swimming is perfect because you are already horizontal and the impact on potentially sore and arthritic joints is kept to a minimum. Likewise for cycling, which is another low impact activity - but with cycling I’d recommend an exercise bike over outdoors, again due to issues with balance.
"Running still has great merit at this age if you have been a regular runner throughout your life. All of these exercises not only burn calories but also ensure you challenge your heart and lungs enough to keep them healthy.”
Resistance training: These highly effective types of exercises provide a multitude of benefits. James highlights in particular, “The stimulation of osteoblast cells that increase bone strength. It also increases your lean muscle mass which helps fight the muscle wastage that comes with age and increases your resting metabolism.” His top recommendations? Squats and lunges.
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Classes: James points out that the type of classes that you do depends on how active you were in previous years. He suggests trying classes that allow you to go at your own pace such as spinning and circuits (if you were particularly active before) and local running clubs.
Look to include a social element in your exercise routine and try to organise a walking club with friends. It’ll give you a chance to catch up and there’s nothing better than being in the great outdoors to get your blood pumping. Aqua aerobics is also another example of a fun group activity that will provide a good workout while also not putting too much pressure on your joints.
Yoga and Pilates are also a great option for people looking to improve posture and flexibility. For people in their seventies, TenPilates recommends its Spinal Mobility Class in particular, which specialises in helping to restore movement in the spine, perfect for those who suffer from lower back pain.
For those not based in London, most gyms and health clubs offer yoga and Pilates classes too such as Fitness First , LA Fitness and Virgin Active .