Exercise isn’t just about losing weight, in fact it will benefit your health and wellbeing long before you start shedding pounds or tone up your tummy. “Research has found that regular exercise helps to combat the loss of stamina, muscle strength, balance and bone density that comes with age, it’s a true anti-ager,” says Yours fitness expert Julie Robinson. “If exercise were a drug we’d all be knocking at the doctor’s door and begging for a prescription.”
A study from Walking Works found that if everyone in England did the recommended amount of exercise a week it could prevent 36,815 people dying prematurely, 6,735 cases of breast cancer and 12,061 people going to hospital for emergency heart disease treatment every year. If you're unsure how to get started, here's our pick of the best anti-ageing exercise routines.
“Tai Chi is a slow and gentle exercise system, which allows you to develop a clearer sense of balance, relaxation and posture,” says Tai Chi teacher Ronnie Robinson. “It encourages the flow of your body’s natural healing energy, which can help increase your flexibility, suppleness, and exercise your muscles.”
Tai Chi is great for relaxation and calms and focuses your mind. Research has also found it could help improve your memory and scientists believe it could even help reduce your risk of dementia.
Making Tai Chi part of your exercise routine could also help you to prevent a fall. Research has found people who regularly practise it have better balance and are less likely to have a fall.
“Walking is one of the best and cheapest forms of exercise you can do,” says Julie. “It’s a weight-bearing exercise, which means that it puts pressure on your bones and helps them to stay strong, which could help to reduce your risk of osteoporosis.”
Walking tones up your legs and bottom, and if you walk tall, swing your arms and pull in your stomach, it will tone up your tummy and arms too. If you walk with purpose and get a little out of breath you’ll also be working your heart and lungs and burning calories.
One study found that walking for an hour a day could reduce your risk of breast cancer by 14 per cent. Another found walking every day could reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes by a huge 40 per cent. Further research discovered a brisk walk could reduce your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol as much as going for a run.
Cycling is ideal if you have stiff joints – it’s low impact, which means that it doesn’t put too much pressure on your joints, but it still helps you stay in shape. Cycling burns calories fast. An 11 stone woman could burn 277 calories cycling leisurely for an hour. Pedal faster and you could burn up to 611 calories. It’s a great way to tone up your legs and bottom, and if you ride uphill your arms and tummy, too.
Cycling could also help you to live longer – one study found that women who cycle regularly live for 2.2 years longer than their non-cycling friends.
Hopping on your bike could also protect your heart. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles over a week could reduce your risk of heart disease by 50 per cent.
If you don’t have a bike or don’t want to cycle on your own, contact British Cycling’s Breeze programme (www.goskyride.com/Breeze). Breeze organise women-only UK-wide bike rides, can help you find a bike to hire or buy and help you find a cycling instructor.
A gentle swim could burn more than 200 calories in 30 minutes and it’s great for shaping up your whole body. According to the experts at the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) water supports up to 90 per cent of your body weight – which means swimming is ideal if you have arthritis. Water makes moving your joints less painful and allows you to strengthen the muscles that support them to make them less stiff on land. It’s great for preventing arthritis too.
One study found that swimming could help to significantly lower your blood pressure and the experts believe that working out in water helps you to work out at the same intensity while putting less pressure on your heart.
The ASA provides adult swimming classes to help people get back into swimming. Find your local ASA approved pool at here or call 01509 618700.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.