It’s never too late to improve your fitness

Exercising even in your golden years can be very beneficial to your health. Photo: PA Photo/Handout
Exercising even in your golden years can be very beneficial to your health. Photo: PA Photo/Handout

NO MATTER what your age or ability, it’s never too late to try to get fit.

You’re not alone if you’ve bounced up and down on the couch with excitement at watching the summer of sport and now feel inspired to try your skills on the trampoline, get on your bike again, or hit the ground running.

That’s all good news as new research says it’s never too late to start exercising and only two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity a week could cut your chances of suffering a heart attack.

The British Heart Foundation-funded scientists confirm that exercise has anti-inflammatory effects, which can protect the heart, and the benefits will be felt even by those who start exercising in later life.

But you need to take care that you don’t fall at the first hurdle.

Russell Bouwman, sport nutritionist at The Nutri Centre, says: “The key thing is to start slow. The idea that you need to be pounding the treadmill for hours to get fit is a little outdated.

“Starting slow, maybe by walking or an exercise class, minimises the risk of injury, builds confidence, as well as releasing some of those feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins.

“The key is being consistent. As general health and wellbeing is increased, people can then move up to more active sport such as jogging, cycling or swimming if they wish.”

Golden tips

l Get an assessment of your abilities and current physical standard from a trainer or a club coach if you’re returning to sport after a long break, rather than relying on rose-tinted memories of youthful success.

l If physically demanding, high-impact sports aren’t suitable for you, don’t be afraid to explore less demanding activities. Mental stimulation and exercise play an important role in improving brain function. Most clubs welcome new members and many offer taster sessions to allow you to try out an activity before joining.

l Listen to your body. The body’s ability to heal and recover can take longer as we age, which doesn’t mean you need to halt exercise because of every small twinge, but don’t ignore a pain or problem that persists beyond a few days.

If in doubt, seek medical advice to prevent a short-term interruption becoming a long-term lay off.

l A vitamin supplement can give your system a boost, which it may need if you’re embarking on a new health regime. Russell Bouwman recommends BioCare’s One-a-day Plus, £44.10 for 90 tablets, from The Nutri Centre.

A multi-vitamin with added CoQ10 for energy, it may help with weight loss and recovery after exercise.

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l Our feet bear the brunt of pressure when we exercise, so they need to be treated with care. With 26 bones and 40 joints, the foot is one of the most complex structures in the human body.

Before you pound those pavements, make sure you have suitable running shoes, and ideally try to run on the more forgiving surfaces of a track or in a park so that the impact is less jarring on your feet and knees.

l When starting a new training regime, it’s important to take steps to condition and strengthen your body in order to prevent injury and help boost performance.