Taking up exercise its never too late

It’s never too late to incorporate exercise into your life. We look at why it’s important to get fit and stay fit after the age of 60, and share the inspirational story of one 66-year-old.

If you think you’re too old to work out, think again: the benefits of starting an exercise regimen – at any age – are too important to ignore. 

Physical activity is essential to good health and disease prevention, and it’s also an excellent way to maintain independence, mental health and wellbeing, particularly for older people. Exercising with friends or any group of people can also reward your social life, as the story of 66-year-old Hunter Gill shows.

Hunter, a 66-year-old business owner from Bendigo, had, like many busy people, let his fitness slip during his 20s and 30s. 

When Hunter first ventured down to his local athletics club, he was 57 years old, so when a 71-year-old beat him on the track, he was motivated to take a long, hard look at his own fitness level.
When starting out, Hunter took a sensible approach: he set himself small goals and stuck to a structured exercise plan. He alternated walking with running, and would take a day off to rest between bouts. 

Hunter admits that it wasn’t easy: “When I first started running, I thought puffing and blowing was all part of it. It never occurred to me that you could get past that.” Seeing steady progress towards his fitness goals made it all worthwhile. “Being fit is a way of keeping pace with what I want to do in life,” he explains.
Hunter’s new-found fitness helps him pursue other hobbies, such as restoring old cars and flying remote-control gliders. “I like the idea that if I want to go and do something, I can do it. It’s not some big exhausting effort just to do the things that make me happy.”
For Hunter, the social aspect of being an athletics-club member is an added bonus. He finds that the regular events, the club members’ positivity and the healthy dose of competitiveness all add to the appeal of staying on top of his fitness.
If athletics isn’t for you, you could try walking, dancing, bowls and gym-based workouts: these exercises will help strengthen your bones and tone your muscles. Swimming, cycling, yoga or tai chi can also help with muscle strength and flexibility. Strong bones and muscles and flexible joints can help reduce the risk of injury from falls.
As Hunter Gill advises, if you’re planning on being more physically active, it’s important to start slowly. 

“Be patient. Keep the progress steady and look for small improvements. Stop when it still feels good.” Exercise can help you make the most of your body, and if you find a social activity you enjoy, you could open the door to some fun new friendships, too. Who knows what you’ll achieve? At the next family barbecue, you might impress the grandkids with your latest yoga pose!

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