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How to Keep Fit in your Retirement

Gina Narramore

Gina Narramore

Author

Health & Wellbeing

In your retirement years, regular exercise can not only help keep you fit, but it can also increase your flexibility, improve your mood and safeguard your health. 

From a short stroll to the shops to a gentle swim or an exercise class, there are numerous ways you can keep fit in your retirement. With this in mind, let’s assess some of the best retirement exercises that you may wish to try.

How Much Exercise Should I Do?

Regular exercise is important as we get older, as our metabolism slows down. As a result, research shows that 78% of men aged 65 to 74 and over 70% of women aged 65 to 84 are now overweight. However, a fit and active retirement can burn off those excess calories, helping keep the weight off.

In retirement, the government suggests that we take part in ‘moderate-intensity activity’, and government guidance suggests that adults aged 65 and over should do 150 minutes of ‘moderate-intensity activity each week’. This may sound like a large amount, but you can break this up however you like, from 5-minute bursts to longer exercise sessions. 
Let’s take a look at the best retirement exercises that would be categorised as ‘moderate-intensity activity’.

Walking

Did you know that May is National Walking Month? Walking is a great way to stay fit and active in your retirement, as it’s fun, flexible and free. Plus, it’s a great way to get out, see new sights and meet new people.

If you’re concerned about your joints and are wondering how to keep fit without running, then walking is a great option. As long as you’re walking at a pace intense enough for you to be slightly out of breath but still able to hold conversation, it’s classed as a ‘moderate-intensity activity’. 

Walking doesn’t have to be about setting off on long hikes, either. You can:

  • Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators 
  • Walk to the shops 
  • Plan a longer walk or a ramble at a weekend 
  • Join a walking group

If you haven’t done much walking previously, you can start slowly and build the intensity at a rate that suits you.

In addition to this, if you need a little more inspiration for your walks, then take a look at our list of recommendations of some of the best walks in England.

Swimming and Water Aerobics 

If you have joint or mobility issues, then swimming can be a good alternative to walking, as it places far less stress on your joints. When you swim, around 90% of your body weight is supported by the water, providing a relatively weightless environment that is particularly useful if you have painful joint movements or arthritis.

If you don’t fancy swimming lengths, then water aerobics could be a good alternative. Many public leisure facilities offer classes specifically designed for retirees and, as well as burning up to 300 calories per session, these water workouts provide a great social atmosphere.

Cycling 

There’s no reason why growing older means having to slow down. Cycling is great for your cardiovascular health and can help to keep your heart healthy. Plus, much like swimming, it’s a low impact exercise.

A recent report from The Guardian revealed that cycling also helps to slow down the loss of muscle mass, stabilise cholesterol levels and improve immunity. 

However, if you choose to take up cycling, then it’s best to start slowly. Begin on an indoor bike and flat ground, before gradually adding inclines and monitoring your heartrate. When you’re ready, you can then hit the open roads. If you’re interested in making new friends or challenging yourself, then join one of the many local cycling groups. Many of these are located close to our retirement properties, too. 

Tennis 


If you’d like to mix your exercise with a competitive edge, then tennis could be the perfect solution; particularly if you join Seniors Tennis GB, who host regular competitions throughout the year. 
 
Whether you’re just taking up the game or hoping to hone your skills, tennis is a great retirement sport as it keeps you active and social. It can also help you improve your balance, coordination and flexibility. Plus, the creativity and agility required to play tennis help keep your brain active.

Exercise Classes 

Many of our residents have previously asked us “does exercise equipment have age restrictions?” The answer is no. Most gyms do not have a maximum age limit, which means that everybody’s welcome to join.

A gym can be a great place to build muscle, take part in cardiovascular activity away from the cold and rain, or make new friends at an exercise class. You’ll find specialist keep fit classes for over 60s, too. So you don’t need to worry about being pushed too hard. 

Yoga 

Yoga does not count towards your 150 minutes of ‘moderate-intensity activity’ per week, but it does count as strength training and is an effective way to improve flexibility, core and balance. If you’re worried about falls as you get older, then yoga is a good solution, as studies show that it can help to prevent falls by strengthening your lower body - particularly your knees and ankles. 

Yoga is fairly commonplace in leisure centres and health clubs, but you can also find NHS approved exercises online

All of these sports and activities are great solutions for retirees of all ages. Plus, as well as keeping you fit and active in your retirement, they can also help you meet new friends. Our recent survey revealed that 53% of adults over the age of 65 often feel lonely, but joining social groups or exercising with local clubs can go a long way to combatting loneliness in retirement, too.

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