Exercise during retirement and you could ‘live five years’ longer

Blog posted

5th June 2015

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If you’re already living an active retirement packed with plenty of regular exercise, well done. You’re already five years younger. If not, then there’s no time like the present to dust off your trainers and get active. 

After reading a recent BBC News article, it gave insight into how researchers are raising awareness about exercising in old age, saying it has an equal positive result on life expectancy as giving up smoking.

The campaign, which aimed to encourage exercise in older people, was conducted by Oslo University Hospital and discovered that both light and vigorous exercise extended life expectancy. Now when they say ‘vigorous exercise’, I’m pretty certain they’re not expecting you to be a regular marathon runner, but you can certainly live an active lifestyle by taking full advantage of all the wonderful activities on offer across our retirement villages.

Firstly, let’s take our Elmbridge Village as an example. Elmbridge is a thriving retirement community where active independence is at the core of everything that happens there.

Set within 28 acres of landscaped grounds ideal for brisk walking (or jogging), there’s also a croquet lawn. 

Then let’s not forget our residents at the Roseland Parc village who didn’t let old age stop them when they became converts to the Zumba fitness craze. Then there’s Tai Chi class, held every Wednesday afternoon at Cedars Village

Residents across our villages are able to enjoy the varied facilities on offer across the sites. From swimming pools, fitness suites, croquet lawns and putting greens, as well many social clubs, we think that proof is in our pudding. 

 

There are plenty of ways to get exercising

There are plenty of examples of activities that will raise your heart rate. These are easy enough to do on a daily basis, and the good news is, you can do these across our retirement villages: Walking, mowing the lawn, swimming, riding a bike, playing tennis.

An NHS web page about ‘The importance of exercise as you get older’, supports this notion saying:

Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant: “As people get older and their bodies decline in function, physical activity helps to slow that decline,” 

“It’s important they remain active or even increase their activity as they get older.”

It’s a wonderful thing being able to enjoy your retirement with like-minded people, be able to play with your grandchildren, or take up a dance class with other members of your retirement village without your knees and joints aching too much after doing the Jive.

In fact, whilst on the topic of dance, dance is a fantastic and social way to up your exercise levels (and have loads of fun at the same time). An example of where residents donned their dancing shoes was earlier this year at our Lime Tree village, which saw 50 residents enjoying dinner and dancing. They danced the night away whilst socialising with friends. Ok, they also enjoyed a four-course meal too, but surely it’s all about having a balance and still having fun too?!

Less mobile? You can still exercise too!

It’s not rocket science, we all know that being physically active is good for us, but let’s be realistic, not everyone can go cycling or take part in an aerobics class. I came across an informative article on the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) website, which addressed exercising if you have difficulty standing or walking. 

It explains how you can still exercise if you’re less mobile. Perhaps you just want to mix things up and do a different exercise, or maybe it’s raining heavily outside and you fancy doing some exercise in your home. Essentially, chair-based exercises can be for anyone.

Chair-based exercises can be done at home, at anytime of the day and when it’s the most convenient for you. Or to make it a social event, why not gather some friends and do it in a group. 

Here are the ‘six rules of chair-based exercise’ the British Heart foundation suggest:

1. Be sure to use a strong chair, preferably with armrests and not too soft. When you sit in the chair, your thighs should be parallel with the floor.

2. Keep your arm and leg movements steady, as this will help avoid muscle and joint strain. In the early stages, move your arms or legs one at a time. As you get more skilful, you can combine arm and leg movements in the same exercise. Ten to 12 repetitions per minute are normally enough, but you are the best judge of what you can manage.

3. Warm up and cool down. When you start moving, the blood supply to the heart muscle needs a few minutes to reach optimal flow. Any combination of these exercises can be done gently to warm up or cool down, while you can do them more vigorously for the main part of your exercise session.

4. Don’t exercise too hard. Aim for moderate-intensity exercise, which means you are slightly breathless and perhaps warmer than usual. Some days or weeks may be better than others, so adjust the intensity of the exercise to how you’re feeling.

5. Never hold your breath while exercising. You’d be surprised just how often we forget to breathe when lifting our arms and legs or staying balanced.

6. Keep your arm exercise below head height. This means the heart doesn’t have to pump so hard against gravity and will help to reduce breathlessness.

Be realistic! 

When setting your fitness goals, be realistic with what you think you can and can’t do. Don’t be shy to get creative with exercise activities, as keeping things varied and interesting means you’re probably more likely to enjoy it and be consistent! Do remember as well, even a small amount of activity can still be a fantastic way boost to fitness levels. No one is expecting you to be as active as you were in your 20’s, but reaching retirement certainly doesn’t mean you can’t be fit and healthy and look after your wellbeing. A little bit of exercise is the best anti-aging product you can buy.

Last but not least, if you’re looking for some inspiration to help encourage you to keep fit, please feel free to attend one of our village open days this summer, where you’ll see plenty of active and independent people enjoying life!

Warm regards 

Sarah Burgess
Sales and Marketing Director