Keeping fit in older age
Earlier this year Hidekichi Miyazaki, a Japanese centenarian who set the 100-meter sprint world record for the over-105 age category, died – aged 108. Dubbed “Golden Bolt” after eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, the diminutive record-breaking athlete was born in 1910 — when the Titanic was still being built. In 2015, he clocked 42.22 seconds in his home city of Kyoto to set a 100-meter world record in the over-105 age category — one for which no mark previously existed.
Miyazaki’s incredible sporting achievements highlight the benefits of keeping fit. But staying active does inevitably get harder as we age, due to health problems, weight or pain issues, or concerns about falling. But while getting older is unavoidable, it doesn’t have to mean becoming less active.
Regular exercise can help increase metabolism and build muscle mass, helping to burn more calories and prevent weight gain. Studies show that it also improves blood pressure and bone density and reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Strength training can alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis and getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The benefits go on. Exercise also improves strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, co-ordination, and reducing the risk of falls. Getting moving can help boost your energy and regular activity will help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, waking feeling more energetic and refreshed. Endorphins produced by exercise can even help reduce feelings of depression, anxiety or sadness.
No matter what your age or current physical condition, there are plenty of ways to start simple steps to becoming more active. Even those who are chair-bound and face special challenges can improve fitness levels by lifting light weights, stretching and chair aerobics, to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.
It’s never too late to get moving, boost your health and outlook, and improve how you age.
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