Lots of pensioners workout at my gym. Although they’re walking or using the stationary bike, not pounding out 6 minute miles on the treadmill, it’s great they’re in there keeping fit and active instead of sitting at home knitting in front of whatever it is old people watch on the telly these days.
After all, there’s no upper age limit to keeping fit – just ask Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathoner. Fauja (also known as the Turbaned Tornado) took up running at the age of 89, ran nine marathons and only retired from taking part in races in 2013 at the age of 101. Even now, at the age of 103, he still runs for pleasure, health and to raise money for charity.
Another pensioner who runs for charity is Floella Benjamin, who those of us of a certain age will remember from Play School (I loved Humpty; Hamble gave me the creeps). Floella, 64, promised Barnados she’d run the London Marathon ten times for them and, true to her word, she did. Previously to that, she hadn’t run more than 200m. Go Flo!
Legendary children’s TV presenters and Sikh Supermen aside though, it’s never too late to get fit. Keith Simpson, who blogs at Not Just Another Running Blog started running in his late 50s, purely to up his fitness levels, but soon progressed to racing and has – just this week, at the age of 65 – run a sub-4 hour in the Düsseldorf marathon. Impressive, huh?
But for most mere mortals, taking up running in later life might not be the best option, therefore low impact exercise might be the way to go; just not so low impact that you never leave the sofa. According to the NHS, to stay healthy or to improve health, older adults over 65 need to do two types of physical activity a week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening. Aerobic exercise can include walking, cycling and even housework.
Obviously, oldies in care homes need to take things easy. A friend of mine who is the senior carer at a residential care home told me her residents have weekly sit down exercises for those able and willing to maintain joint mobility and coordination. They also have static pedals to help with leg and hip movement.
Other care homes also offer a variety of activities, such as tai chi, which is one of the activities offered at Rosetti House nursing home in Frome. Tai chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements. It’s associated with health benefits for all ages and fitness levels, but especially older people.
I’m hoping to be healthy enough to stay fit and active in my 60s; not sure I’ll be running marathons at 103 though.
(Please note I am not a doctor and nothing on here should be construed as medical advice.)