Get up and get active with Dame Mary Peters

15 September 2012

Having won Gold in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Dame Mary Peters knows a thing or two about keeping fit. However, with only 17% of men, and 13% of women, over the age of 65 doing the recommended level of exercise each week*, is fitness solely for the young at heart?

73 year old Dame Mary thinks not. To prove that later life can be a greater life, the former athlete has given us her top tips on keeping fit.

Whatever your age, the key to success is having fun. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to do the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise each week, particularly as you get older, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Start slowly, and with the things you enjoy, and you’ll soon find that exercise becomes a part of your everyday life.

  • Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise you can get; it works all the body’s major muscles, and is a great cardiovascular workout. You’ll be able to watch your fitness improve, as gradually you’ll be able to swim further and further. If you find swimming too monotonous, ask your local pool if it runs aqua aerobics classes as a fun alternative.
  • A lot can be said for walking, even if it’s just a stroll around the park, or down to the local shops. Good for mind, body and soul, regular walking can play a significant part in helping to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, while simply getting out into the great outdoors helps to alleviate stress and tension.
  • Dance; whether it’s ballroom, line dancing, or even Zumba, put your dancing shoes on and bust some moves. You’ll find you’re having so much fun, it won’t even feel like exercise.
  • Keep your joints loose, and your muscles supple, by joining a local Pilates or Yoga group. This gentle form of exercise not only helps strengthens your body, but will also help relax your mind. Most groups welcome people of all ages – while some sports clubs offer classes exclusively for the over 50s. Ask your local gym for a timetable and get stretching.
  • And for the more adventurous, why not try something completely new? Rock climbing, water sports, Zorbing – or even sky diving. There’s a real increase in the number of older people trying out adventure sports – so unleash your inner adrenaline junkie.

Of course, everyone will have different levels of fitness ability. It’s important you listen to your body, Sky diving is possibly a little extreme for many; it certainly is for me! But there’s no reason why gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming, can’t be incorporated into your everyday life. However, if in doubt, always check with your GP first.

View a short video clip of Dame Mary Peters competing in the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

*Department of Health statistics

Picture: Residents from Eden Court have been known to visit their local gym five times a week.

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