Karl Henry: Resistance is not futile. Just 180 minutes of exercise a week will help keep ageing at bay
Ageing. It’s a part of life. Something we all have to face. The hairline might recede, the wrinkles appear and your waistline expands almost overnight. It seems like you just have to accept it — or do you?
During a recent conference I was presenting at, I was amazed to learn how few people over the age of 50 exercised on a regular basis. Even fewer did any form of resistance or weight training. Less than 5pc of those present did either. Honestly, I was taken aback. Thankfully many who attended are now moving and training and getting the benefits associated with it.
As your body ages, it is even more important to move. Many of the issues that are associated with ageing can be slowed down, better managed and prevented by getting your body to move.
Do you want to have more energy, less joint stiffness, sleep better, lose weight, reduce your risk of age-related disease, improve your skin, shrink your waistline, relieve your arthritis, work better, avoid that afternoon slump, improve your motivation and finally, increase your zest for life?
If the answer is yes to any of the above then it’s time to get up off that couch and get moving. Our bodies are designed to move — not stand still. Yes, as you get older you may suffer from wear and tear related issues, but is that a reason not to move? No, of course not.
The less you move, the stiffer you will become. The less energy you will have. The more you will gain weight. It’s a vicious cycle of lethargy and weight gain, of sedentary living and demotivation.
The time to fix this is now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Now. You can take responsibility for your body and your mind and get back on track to health.
So what do you need to do?
Firstly you need to take an approach that will last in the long term,not just for a few weeks. Let’s begin with an achieveable target.
Let’s try for 180 minutes of exercise this week. That’s just three hours. Or 30 minutes a day, over six days.
Look at the next seven days and see where you can squeeze that in. It can be walking to work, from work or from the train station. Or find the time by watching 30 minutes less TV each night. Getting up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. You can be guaranteed that you will find a way.
Now what can you do? Ideally each week you will combine three different types of exercise.
The first is cardiovascular, which is anything that gets your heart rate up. Walking, cycling and swimming are all good, just make sure you are working hard enough to get at least slightly out of breath. If not you need to move faster!
The second is some form of resistance training. That can be your body weight in terms of a squat, lunge etc or lifting weights in a gym.
The third type of exercise is flexibility. As you get older you will stiffen up so it’s crucial to do some basic stretches or attend a class like yoga, pilates or tai chi.
Don’t be put off by all of the information, just aim for 180 minutes next week and watch how you feel, move and how your motivation changes. Don’t believe me? Well give it and try and watch what happens!