Gracefully Ageing: 10 Tips to Stay Fit as You Age

Words by Sara Terrell

Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, Colin Firth and Idris Elba…these are just a few examples of men who are ageing well.

But what’s their secret? It’s not just good genes and lighting, these men all have one thing in common. They keep fit. You won’t see a flabby Daniel Craig or Idris Elba sporting a wobbly double chin.

If you want to age well, you may need to make a few lifestyle changes. Here’s how you can stay fit even when you’ve got a lot of candles on your birthday cake.

1. Stay Physically Active

Getting off that couch and staying physically active is a good all-rounder in the anti-ageing department. While not suggesting you take up marathon running, staying physically active can be as simple as doing an hour’s work in the garden or going for a brisk walk three times a week.

Exercise helps circulation. It’s good for your heart and bone health and it eases stress and releases endorphins—those feel-good hormones that give us extra energy. Plus, it keeps the inevitable middle-age spread at bay.

2. Pick Exercise Types To Match Your Age

In their 40s, many men gain a little weight as they age. Resistance training is a good way to burn calories, prevent fat accumulation and reverse that bane of ageing—losing muscle mass.

Try dumbbells and kettlebells and consider taking pilates classes as they’re great for strengthening your core and preventing back pain.

In your 50s, chronic conditions often raise their heads such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and sometimes, type 2 diabetes. If you’ve hit the big 5-0, consider doing strength training 2-3 times a week.

In your 60s, the incidence of serious diseases such as cancers increases markedly. In this decade, you want to maintain your exercise regime at a fairly high level. You can do this by working out combinations of the exercise types described above.

In your 70s and beyond, exercise helps to reduce cognitive declineand will definitely help with reducing frailty.

3. Keep Moving

The important thing is to keep moving. A sedentary lifestyle is to be avoided at all costs. Sustained exercise should become a lifestyle choice you make over and over again.

And of course, walking is a great way of doing weight-bearing exercise. Walk briskly so that you just break a sweat. It will keep your bone density at a good level and is good for all round fitness.

Don’t forget to stretch, it’s a brilliant way to keep flexible and ease away aches and stiff joints.

4. Varying Your Exercise

Why not try a boxing class, resistance training with rubber bands or bodyweight workouts? By varying the type of exercise that you do your whole body will get a workout and you won’t get bored. You may find that as you get older some types of exercises are easier than others, so don’t be afraid to try new things.

5. You Are What You Eat

Watching your diet is another important investment you can make in your anti-ageing fitness journey. Eating a balanced diet made up of a little protein (lean meats, fish and chicken), vegetables of all colours and fruit is the best way to boost your health.

Simple eating choices such as a diet of plenty of fish, olive oil, fruit, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids is super nourishing, benefiting not only your body but your brain too. 

Oh, and watch those portions. Remember your stomach is only as big as your clenched fist, most of us eat far too much at a sitting. Start cutting down on your portion size. Your gut will be much happier for it.

6. Lower Your Stress Levels

Exercising to relax may sound like a contradiction, but it’s not. Keeping your stress levels under control is another important factor in keeping fit.

Scientific research has shown that aerobic exercise has mental benefits and has a neurochemical basis, according to Harvard University. Having high levels of the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol is not good for the body and you need to avoid this as much as possible.

Keeping yourself fit with moderate exercise is one of the best stress relievers around. Achieving this may be as simple as walking the dog.

7. Ditch The Vices

If you still smoke, stop. Smoking is one of the fastest ageing accelerators around and it won’t help you stay fit if you’re coughing after just a few minutes of exercise.

A couple of pints at the pub are fine, and a glass of wine with dinner won’t hurt, but it’s a good idea to stick to the unit guidelines for alcohol consumption of no more than 14 units a week. Alcohol is laden with sugar and won’t help you on your fitness journey.

8. Get Enough Sleep

As you age, your sleep patterns change and it’s vital that you get enough rest. Sleep affects all the tissues in your body, including growth and stress hormones, your immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. These are essential for staying fit and healthy.

Getting enough sleep is also important for maintaining your energy levels. It’s difficult to exercise when you’re exhausted, and if you’re well rested, you’ll put a lot more effort in.

9. Take Care Of Your Feet

Feet are not the first thing we think of when talking about fitness. But as you age, the circulation in your lower extremities decreases, so any injury, bunion, infection or small cut will take longer to heal.

Keep an eye on your feet, and address any nicks, cuts or dry patches quickly.

10. See Your Doctor Regularly

Staying fit isn’t just about exercising, it’s about looking after your body, too. Regular scheduled checkups with your GP will help to detect any serious problems, most of which can be treated if caught early enough.

Fit Is A State Of Mind

Staying fit as you age is an ongoing journey and a conscious decision you need to make. Your metabolism will slow down and you won’t find it as easy to run up that flight of stairs or lift that heavy box.

Put the effort in and it will pay off. Just remember to listen to your body and know your limits. You can push yourself a little, but remember, you’re no longer in your 20s and have nothing to prove.

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