Why Going to the Gym is Still Important After Your 60th Birthday

December 26, 2019

Two people are doing exercise in the gym
JayDee Huppert

As you turn 60 years old, you are entering what is considered “The Golden Decade.”  Yet, unfortunately this decade often associated with negativity.  People start to joke about their body’s starting to fall apart and their frequent trips to doctor’s clinics.  It is also the decade of life that you are most likely to be diagnosed with cancer, experience a slower metabolism, and feel less sharp than you used to.

Aging doesn’t have to be associated with poor health.

Instead of focusing on all the negative possibilities of aging, there is so much to be grateful for and celebrate.  You have learned to persevere what life has thrown at you.  And now, more than ever, how you take care of your mind and body is the absolute key to continue enjoying life to the fullest.  This is done by establishing great health habits, such as exercise, eating well, and stress management.

The benefits of exercise after 60 are significant.

  • Research shows that risk of heart attack decreases by 11% with regular exercise.
  • It also shows an overall decreased risk of stroke, cancer, and general mortality.
  • Better managed diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, and other common chronic illnesses.
  • Improved pain management for arthritic joints.
  • Less dependence on medications that come with detrimental side effects.
  • Decrease risk of disease progression for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, and other chornic illnesses.
  • Increased muscle mass, increasing energy levels and tolerance for daily activity.
  • Increased bone mass, decreasing risk of complications with falls.
  • Improved balance to decrease fall risk.
  • Overall improved quality of life.

How to maximize the benefits of physical activity.

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3-5 times per week.  If you are limited by time, endurance or pain, it can be broken into 5-10 minute increments throughout the day (while still gaining the full benefits of regular exercise).   If you are currently inactive, make sure you initiate a new exercise program slowly.  Choose a form of exercise that simple and enjoyable for you, such as walking.  That way you can slowly build the intensity and time you tolerate as you gain confidence and momentum.   If you are concerned about where to start and how it will affect your health (especially if you have a chronic illness), talk to your doctor first to discuss the right options for you.  

Exercise options that you can start today.

The possibilities available for being active are endless.  It can be as simple as putting on a pair of tennis shoes and going for a walk by yourself or with a friend.  Nowadays, many gyms offer a “Silver Sneakers” class that specifically caters to 60 years and older.  Check to see what kind of coverage your medical insurance might provide for a gym membership.  Many gyms also offer low impact classes in a pool.  Additionally, you can take advantage of the gym’s weights and cardio equipment for a more independent option.  Otherwise, you can also set up a space in your home to do your own personalized calisthenics.  As you decide what’s best for you, keep in mind that research shows that endurance and resistance training have exponential value for your health.  

It’s never too late to get active

The body is amazingly resilient, no matter what state of health you are in.  When you start stimulating the heart, lungs, and muscles, they will show immediate adaptive changes that improve your health (such as improved circulation, oxygenation and hormone balance).  Don’t let chronic illness, pain, depression, or any other health issues you are experiencing get in the way of your exercise routine.  There are modified options for every state of health.  You don’t have to do it alone either.  There are great support groups and medical professionals available to give you the guidance you need to succeed.

If you don’t use it, you lose it.   

If you choose not to exercise, the detriment on your health will become apparent quickly.   For example, lack of physical activity has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack by 27%.  Additionally, as soon as you stop exercising, you will quickly lose the benefits you gained.  This is why consistency is crucial (even when it’s winter).  With 2020 here, take a moment to set some fitness goals that will keep you motivated and active throughout the year.  Make your 60s your best decade yet.  

Don’t let your age be a limitation.  With the right mindset and knowledge, you can maximize your health and benefits with exercise.  

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