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Stay fit: It's always the right time to begin.
Stay fit: It's always the right time to begin.

AJIT SHETTY

Don't let your age hold you back. Older adults can start working out too. Here's how you can get started.

Yes. You read it right. Older people, the sort who have never worked out before and are suddenly keen to start are on the right track. Because, you never are too old to begin. The muscles in your body need to be exercised to be kept fit and no matter what age you begin at you are at the ‘right' age. Because with muscles growing, you experience enhanced levels of energy and with that comes a freedom, a sense of liberation that there really is nothing you cannot do.

If age was a criterion, why would doctors recommend that older injured people employ the services of physiotherapists to improve mobility? Because, physiotherapy is all about getting joint movement and recovering muscle elasticity so an older or injured individual can get back to normal (read: moving) as quickly as possible.

There are ways a person reaching a certain age can keep agile, strong, flexible, and balanced with a lot more endurance. They can do it all without feeling tired. A lot of people who work out say, “I feel a lot fresher than I did earlier. Even at the end of my day.” The answer is quite obvious: exercise. On a daily basis for at least 40 minutes. Studies show that those who exercise for 40 to 60 minutes keep diseases like Alzheimer'saway.

An older person cannot be expected to enrol at a gym and suddenly do the workout of a biologically younger fitter person. They need to initiate their bodies into exercise slowly and under personal guidance, should they decide to go to a gym. Choose a gym with care: it has to be a place that is older, adult-friendly and has certified trainers instead of a place with over-enthusiastic trainers who tend to look down on people who cannot do what they can.

After studying older adults and devising workouts for them, I have found that

30-40 minutes of walking or swimming really helps. Both these activities need to be done outdoors, in public places where they meet up with like minded people, compare notes, motivate and help each other with tips.

Swimming is for those with weak joints as the water acts as a support and resistance to the body. Besides the benefits, it is a safer form of exercise.

One aspect everybody who exercises has to keep in mind is to break out of the comfort zone. Our bodies need to be challenged. They need variety in the workout or the bodies and muscles tend to stagnate. Push yourself. If you are walking, try reducing the time you complete a certain distance. If you are swimming, do more lengths in the time allotted. You will find constant improvements that will surprise and delight you. Include whole body stretches, particularly neck stretches.

Other experiments you could try, that I have found working with a lot of the older adults I've trained, is Interval training. Warm up. Push yourself as much as you can for as long as you can, then slow down. Once you have recovered, push yourself again. Do this a few times during your workout. End it with a cool down. You will feel fantastically rejuvenated, sweaty and well worked out.

However, when you exercise outdoors, you are so dependent on climatic conditions. In a gym, exercise is always in a controlled environment with someone watching you, guiding you, offering suggestions and taking you to the next level of fitness. The results too are recorded so you see it in black and white.

Outdoor appealA few tips for those who'd preferto work out outdoors:

Invest in good running shoes

Get yourself a heart rate monitorand comfortable exercise clothes

Equipment like tubing in differentelasticises are a good idea. Usethem for strength training.

Always shower after a workout.Washing the sweat away alsowashes off the toxins that mayhave settled on your skin andrefreshes you

Benefits of exercise

Cardio conditioning helps theheart beat healthily

More flexibility in your jointsallows for a whole range ofpainless movement that wouldotherwise have caused you togrimace

Of course, you look a lot betteras your muscles tone up andyour clothes fit better. Yourposture improves too

Those muscles lose theirtightness. Therefore the painfrom stretching them reducesand slowly goes away

Exercise reduces stress. You areable to tackle niggling problemswith a happier frame of mind,become more adept at findingsolutions

Bones get stronger, reducing therisks of the dreaded `O' -Osteoporosis

As told to Ameeta Agnihotri


Ajit Shetty is Director, Score Fitness Centre

The Hindu presents the all-new Young World

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