The British Medical Journal published the study which discovered that those who lived a lifestyle with low physical activity had a 72 per cent increased risk of developing disability over the age of 65, while those who ate less than one portion of fruit and vegetables a day increased their risk by 24 per cent.
Disability is classed as “difficulty or dependency in carrying out activities essential to independent living”, and researchers warn that action needs to be taken to prevent the predicted increase of disabilities in later years.
So the key message is to start doing exercise now, and here are some of the top ten easy exercises to do for all age groups and abilities.
1. Walking -You’ve heard it time and time again, walking is good for you. But it’s so surprising how many of us would rather take the car round the corner to the shop, rather than using leg power. A brisk walk of just 30 minutes a day is enough to keep you fit and healthy, assuming you’re eating the correct diet. It could be a trip to the corner shop, a walk around the park with your dog, or a full on hike with the family on a day out. Start small, and you’ll realise how easy it is to fit walking in to your daily routine.
2. Swimming – Swimming is a low impact sport, so it suits people with ailing joints, pregnant women and the elderly, better than a high impact sport like running or tennis. The great thing about swimming is you really can go at your own pace, and it has the amazing benefit of working your whole body, so you’ll find muscles where you never thought you had them.
3. Stretching and yoga – If you don’t fancy joining a yoga class or mixing with others, then gentle stretching in your own house is a great way to keep you supple and mobile. By sitting in a chair all day, our bodies get neglected, but if you can find half an hour in the day to lay on the floor, stretch every part of your body, you’ll awaken bits that have been asleep, and you’ll also start to feel rejuvenated. If you struggle with mobility, your GP can suggest gentle stretches that can be performed from a sitting down position.
4. Housework – so for many the words exercise and housework together would be their idea of hell, but let’s face it – someone has to do the chores. The incentive for you to do the vacuuming – including the stairs, is that you’ll burn a heap of calories doing it, and you’ll have a clean house as a bonus. People who put a bit of elbow grease into their cleaning regime can stay trim and fit simply by doing the housework.
5. Gardening – for a lot of people gardening can be a way to unwind and relax. And it has the hidden benefit of being a great way to stay fit. Elderly people who are still busy in the garden remaining more mobile and mentally active than those who sit inside all day. A bit of gentle weeding is a great way to work your back, arms, and legs, without you really noticing.
6. Dancing – If you enjoy your music, make more of it. You might look like a bit of a loon jumping around your bedroom or kitchen playing air guitar to some rock ballad, but it’s another great way to keep fit for free, and with nobody watching you. If you are struggling with mobility issues, again, you can do certain moves from the comfort of your own chair – the important bit is raising your heart rate – to help keep heart disease and other diseases at bay.
7. Team sports – If you’ve never really taken to exercise, then team sport might be a more fun way for you to engage with it. Often in the park you see groups having a kick about with a ball, and this is when it seems like more fun. Get a group together and head up to your local park for a spot of cricket, football or rounders, and if you have to have a barbecue as well, why not! You’ll be having so much fun you won’t even realise you’re doing exercise!
8. Aqua-aerobics – Like swimming, aqua-aerobics is suitable for pretty much anyone. You can take it very much at your own pace and the water means you’re not putting any undue pressure on your joints. You might not feel like you’re working your body that hard when you are in the water, but you’ll know all about it the next day!
9. Computer fitness programmes – If the idea of going out and exercising really does fill you with dread, then you can find some good computer programmes which help you to lose weight and keep fit. Whether it be a dance mat or the Wii Fit, there’s guaranteed to be something out there that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
10. Skipping – What might at first sound like a school playground activity, is actually a super-efficient way of keeping you fit. Skipping is a bit of an art form, but as long as you have some sense of co-ordination then a session with a skipping rope can burn a load of calories and help you to keep trim. Also, you can do it in your own back garden.
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ambrose