Monday, 30 July 2012

Use it or lose it - part 2

Today's  "Use it or lose it" is about your body and the importance of keeping fit as you get older.  My mother was my inspiration, as she was still going for long walks and playing badminton in her eighties.

When we were living in London John and I belonged to Serpentine Running Club, so we were both running on a regular basis even in our sixties.  Living in Spain we find it too hot to go running in the summer months, but we go out walking several times a day with our dog, as well as walking into the town centre for shopping or to meet friends.  What I have noticed though amongst friends of a similar age is that, because they have a car and live in the countryside, their walking is limited to a gentle stroll from their car to the shops or restaurant.  This means that  they don't have the stamina that John and I have.

Don't forget that your heart is a muscle and still needs regular exercise to keep it in good shape: you don't have to run marathons, but regular walking will help to keep you fit and help to keep your heart healthy.

Weight-bearing exercise is especially important for women after the menopause to help them avoid osteoporosis.  Walking is one of the best forms of exercise in this respect and has the advantages of being easy to do and cheap, but dancing and low-impact aerobics are also good.

Strength training is another important element in building bone density, but don't panic as I'm not talking about using heavy weights and building up huge muscles.  You don't even have to use weights for this as you can use resistance bands or just your own body weight as in push-ups.  If you do want to use free weights, I would recommend going to a gym in the first instance to learn good technique, but then you can continue using them at home.

This discussion is about keeping your body in good condition, which includes suppleness as well as stamina and strength.  When I was living in London I regularly went to Pilates and yoga classes in my local gym.  I now use fitness videos at home, though once my Spanish has improved I will look for a Pilates class locally as I enjoy exercising in a group. Again, I would recommend doing some Pilates classes in a gym if you are a novice before trying to do it at home, to ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly.  Even doing simple stretches on a daily basis will help to keep your body flexible - I like to boast that I can still touch my toes!

Remember that exercise doesn't have to be boring: I have some Zumba videos and have great fun trying to dance along to them, though our dog Lisa gives me some funny looks!  The important things to remember are to include Stamina, Strength and Suppleness in your exercise programme for overall fitness, to build up your fitness slowly, to consult with your doctor if you have any medical problems and/or if you are over 40 and to learn the correct techniques if you are a beginner before exercising at home.

Are you over 60?  What exercises do you enjoy doing to keep your body in good condition?


  1. I'm with you on the dog walking, as well as keeping you fit it also can be good for building social circles as fellow dog walkers generally stop for a chat and, as creatures of habit, you tend to see the same people often. Now that I don't play golf as often as I used to, I use my Wii Fit for a variety of exercises from Yoga, balance, muscle building and aerobic. Mt favourite is cycling around an island, effectively walking on the spot for 20 minutes, surprising how much effort it can take. Great for when it's raining outside!

  2. It's so true about the social side of dog walking, especially here in Spain. If we dare venture out without our dog Lisa, everybody asks us where she is! It's good to see that you have a balanced, all-round fitness programme - I rather fancy getting a Wii Fit pack having had a lot of fun a couple of years ago playing with our friend's daughter's Christmas present!