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Keeping Active: The Benefits of Exercise at 50

POSTED Wednesday 13 February 2019

As well as helping with weight management, improving core strength which can reduce the likelihood of falls as we get older, and boosting mental health, staying active when you age is clearly beneficial on many levels. To discuss these, we caught up with fitness instructor Esther, who, as well as being active throughout her life, is an ambassador for keeping fit and healthy when you get older.

active club

Active Club, a new programme by University of Birmingham Sport & Fitness, is a chance for adults to regain their fitness, or discover a new way to keep fit in relaxed, social sessions. Specifically designed for older adults, who are looking to try something new or develop their fitness, there’s something for everyone in this new programme, and who better to talk to about it than one of Sport & Fitness’ longest-serving instructors, Esther (pictured)!

 

‘Before I voice any of my opinions about the benefits of exercise, I must start with a quote from health promotion consultant, Dr Nick Cavill, who said, “If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented”. For me that really says it all, but there are many benefits of taking regular exercise, some obvious and some not so.

‘On average, more people are now living significantly longer compared with fifty years ago. This challenges us to maintain quality of life for longer as we age, and regular exercise is one way to reap the physical, psychological and social benefits.’


The Benefits

Physical:

  • It helps to maintain muscle mass as we age.
  • Helps with weight management and the ability to maintain a constant healthy level with less likelihood of weight fluctuating.
  • There is overwhelming evidence to show that people who exercise regularly have a significantly (up to 50%) lower risk of developing certain age-related health problems. These include osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
  • Improves core strength, and therefore reducing the likelihood of experiencing falls.

Psychological:

active club

  • Exercise can also improve our mental well-being. This includes mood, boosting self-esteem, quality of sleep and energy levels.
  • Exercise has also been shown to reduce levels of stress, instances of depression and very importantly the onset of
  •  dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It gives you a great sense of achievement.
  • Gives you ‘me time’, away from stresses of life and work and allows you to just think about you.

Social:

  • You get the opportunity to mix with like-minded individuals.
  • It can fuel competitive spirit, team building, and gives you a chance to chat to people

 

Esther’s Experiences

active club

As an instructor, it’s all about improving and promoting quality of life. Personally, for me there are many benefits of exercise but here are just a few:

  • I feel uplifted and can maintain an optimistic enthusiastic outlook, even on those cold and damp days (people frequently ask where I get my energy and upbeat enthusiasm from)!
  • It promotes a clarity of thought that I just wouldn’t otherwise experience.
  • I can run for buses and I don’t get out of breath when climbing flights of stairs.
  • I have been able to maintain ‘my figure’.
  • I find it amazing and always flattering when people tell me that I don’t look my age!

‘I think all of this helps me to be a good role model for those members who feel like Active Club could be a good option for them.’

I believe that it is beneficial to exercise – whether that be going to a session, going for a walk or taking the stairs instead of the lift – as frequently as lifestyles permit, but twice a week is a good starting point. Current thinking suggests that if you can get to do 150 minutes a week of quality exercise activity, then you are on the right track.

I know that the thought of exercise with others in a sports centre environment can be a daunting prospect for the uninitiated and I have frequently been told so. An age range-specific activity club is a great way to overcome that initial lack of confidence and inertia that often prevents individuals from even getting started.

Active Club

active club

The University of Birmingham Sport & Fitness is well-equipped to help you start your fitness journey. The various gym and dance studios are well-stocked and maintained so you don’t need to bring anything yourself, and there’s the excellent Costa coffee shop, where you can relax in a welcoming, social environment before or after your workout.

Plus, accessibility is convenient; there is a frequent bus service with stops just a short distance from the entrance, and for those arriving by car there is large indoor parking area adjacent to the main building. Plus, there’s lifts at either end of the building, accessible toilets and changing facilities, and friendly and knowledgeable professionals are always on hand to provide individually-focussed help and advice, so that your goals are achieved safely and enjoyably. I’ve worked as an instructor at the University for a number of years and I love seeing new people in my classes – so don’t worry, just come along and try a session!


To find out more about the new Active Club programme, visit our website for session times and details, and how to book.

13.02.19

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