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Why Exercise in Retirement Is More Important Than Ever

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Date: Fri 21st April 2023

Why Exercise in Retirement Is More Important Than Ever

For years now, the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise have been drummed in to us all and we frequently see pictures in the papers of adults and children alike carrying far more weight than is necessary.  The UK government have initiated several campaigns to get us all moving and eating better as the financial burden of our unhealthy lifestyles takes its toll on our health service.

Despite their best intentions, I can’t help but feel that in their bid to keep our nation healthy, there is one demographic who have been a little left out of the loop. Our seniors.  If anyone can reap the benefits of daily exercise, surely, it’s our golden generation?

I know we all look forward to retirement as a time to slow down and do what we want, as and when we please.  Surely we’ve earned it by then?  Of course we have but we must also be aware that there is a ‘trade off’ to a new, sedentary lifestyle.

I recall my mother in-law retiring from work as a full time teacher in a secondary school.  Not less than a year after retirement, I remember her saying “I honestly don’t think that I could now keep up the pace of what I was doing a year ago”.  Ok, so this is not the biggest sin but what if we start slowing down at other things such as our brisk walking speed to a level that now suits a less hectic lifestyle?  Carrying the shopping bags in one or two at a time in favour of the old ‘three in each hand’ because everything had to be done in a hurry.  Consider our household technology; upgrading our vacuum cleaner to one that is far lighter to push around or carry up the stairs, easy glide irons, power steering on our cars... the list goes on.  

Without realising it, we’ve made our lives so easy that we rarely exert ourselves at anything.  Before long, going back to a life where we could walk fast, lift heavier objects and perform an activity for any length of time has become almost impossible.

I say ‘almost’ impossible because it is never too late to exercise and turn back the clock.  However, it does need to be the ‘right’ kind of exercise.  

I’m a firm believer that working on muscle strength, flexibility and endurance are fundamental to staying healthy and mobile in our older years, as is working at a level just outside of our comfort zones.  

Core work is an absolute ‘must’ as a weak core results in slumping and bad posture.  Poor posture offsets our centre of gravity and can lead to unsteady balance.  Trips and falls are a frightening concept to most over a certain age, particularly to those suffering from diseases such as osteoporosis. A quality, daily exercise programme can help improve balance, coordination, strengthen bones and joints and even help reduce the pain of arthritis.   

Need more convincing?

Not only is exercise a huge plus from a physical point of view but it is also vital for our mental wellbeing.  Even during a pandemic, when all other liberties were restricted, exercise was still actively encouraged.  Whether you can have friends over to exercise with you, meet other residents in a communal space and exercise together or go at it solo, you’ll feel the rush of endorphins as a result of taking part. 

Feeling fitter gives us confidence, boosts our self esteem and even relieves anxiety and symptoms of depression.  

There are dozens more reasons why exercise is beneficial to our health in our senior years but my personal favourite is that it boosts our ability to stay independent for as long as possible and live our retirements to the full.

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