Staying active as we get older can minimise the risk of death by cardiovascular disease, obesity-related illnesses and cancer, so what are the best options for maintaining our wellbeing into older age? A combination of these three fitness options could be ideal.
Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates for balance and coordination
It’s fair to say that maintaining balance and coordination are vital at every stage of life, and there are a number of exercise and aging articles that show the link between improving balance and reducing the risk of falls in advanced age. Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates all engage the core muscles and work to improve general balance, and our Les Mills BodyBalance combines all of these in one class set to music to provide gentle exercise for any age and fitness level.
Strength training to maintain muscle mass and strength
It’s certainly a case of ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to keeping our muscles in optimal condition over time. Thanks to a condition called sarcopenia, we lose around 1–2% of our muscle mass every year after the age of 50. We also tend to lose muscle strength by around 1.5% per year between ages 50 and 60, and by around 3% per year after that. Resistance exercise is believed to be the best way to minimise that loss of muscle mass into older age, so be sure to incorporate regular strength and resistance training into your workout schedule.
High Intensity Interval Training to slow cellular ageing
Does exercise slow the aging process? If we’re talking about HIIT, recent research from Mayo Clinic actually does indicate just that. The mitochondria in our cells convert nutrients into energy rich molecules through the process of cellular respiration. Our mitochondria function reduces over time, affecting our cellular ability to build and repair cells. The study found that mitochondrial functioning improved by a staggering 69% amongst a group of 65-80 year olds who completed aerobic HIIT training over 12 weeks. By comparison, the group of 18-30 year olds saw an improvement of 49%. HIIT exercise can be carried out with walking or running, through a HIIT class or even incidentally, such as running up the stairs rather than taking the escalator. Of course, those with heart conditions and other health conditions must take these into account when exercising.
Remember that it’s never too late to get started, even if you’ve been inactive for some time. Working with a personal trainer can be a great place to start to set your goals and master your workout techniques with the benefit of specialist advice.