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Exercise for the older adult

By CAROLYN EVAN-WATKINS [email protected]

Carolyn Evan-Watkins is a sports, fitness and Pilates instructor with more than 15 years experience. She is a lecturer, teaching and assessing instructors in health and fitness. Carolyn has also been a Government advisor, and still writes and presents her own courses within this field. She moved to the Algarve last year and teaches Pilates classes in Vale do Lobo and Boliqueime.

When I was in my twenties and thirties, I didn’t worry about getting older and all that it would involve.  When I began to train and work with the ‘over 50’ age group, I was approaching my 40th birthday.  It was then that I actually started to think about the changes that have to be faced and what it meant to get older.

What that experience gave me, and still gives me, is an overwhelming enthusiasm for life, and an absolute joy in teaching this particular age group.

My older clients have taught me how imperative it is to have a good quality of life both mentally (emotionally) and physically, and how necessary it is to look after oneself for the future.  More importantly, they (but particularly a lady named Phyllis, who started exercise classes in her sixties, and is still going every week at the age of 86) taught me that it’s never too late to start exercising and that exercise can make a huge difference in all aspects of your life.

However much we try, we cannot turn back or stop the clock, but we can slow down some of the ageing processes. And it is so very important to remember that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO START.  

The National Institute of Ageing says that “when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen just because they have aged, more likely it is because they have become inactive.”

Exercise will not only improve your quality of life, it will give you a new lease of life. It is vital to find some form of exercise that you enjoy, so that you do it because you get pleasure from it, and not simply because it’s good for you.

As I’ve said many times before, we will not adhere to anything if we find it a chore, no matter how many times we’re told it is good for us. We also need to find someone – a trainer, instructor, dance teacher, coach – who we like and get along with. A word of caution here, please make sure that your teacher is fully qualified and has experience in the discipline they are teaching.

There are specific areas that need to be concentrated on as we get older to make our quality of life better, such as:

Endurance – simple exercises involving ‘aerobic’ warm ups, to help maintain your cardiovascular fitness and improve your balance and co-ordination.  

Strength – light weight work to help maintain your muscle strength and bone density and lessen the risks of osteoporosis.

Balance – easy movements/exercises that will allow your body to move freely lessening the risk of falls.

Flexibility/stretching – make sure that stretches are done every day so that your body warms up, to ensure you have a full range of movement.

FUN – the most important of all factors in maintaining an active mind and body is the social side. If you have a positive mental attitude, everything about and around you will feel the benefits.

Have fun, stay fit and healthy!

For more information please contact Carolyn on 931 106 716 or www.pilatesportugal.eu