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The benefits of exercising in retirement

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Retirement is often associated with a slower pace of life, but that doesn’t mean you should cut back on how much you’re exercising or even that you shouldn’t increase how active you are. Exercising in retirement could improve your health and wellbeing to enable you to get the most out of the next stage of your life.

According to the NHS, many adults aged 65 and over spend on average 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down. This makes over-65s the most sedentary age group and some could be paying a high price for their inaction. The NHS states that remaining active becomes even more important as you get older if you want to stay healthy and maintain your independence.

The NHS recommends aiming to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, as well as trying to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down every day. There could be more benefits than you think to exercising in retirement.

Exercise could help prevent diseases

Getting older is often associated with an increased likelihood of becoming ill, but exercise could provide some protection against this. The NHS states there is strong evidence to suggest that active people have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Regular exercise could also reduce the risk of having a fall.

Remaining active can deliver a mental health boost

The mental health benefits of exercise are often cited when encouraging all generations to be more active, and it’s no different when you retire. Exercise leads to your body releasing feel-good chemicals called endorphins. This can provide an instant boost to your mental wellbeing and have a positive long-term effect on your mental health.

Exercise can improve your cognitive function

Cognitive functions, such as memory and thinking skills, could also be improved by maintaining your activity levels or increasing them. According to Harvard Medical School, exercise has a direct impact on the body’s chemicals that can reduce inflammation and encourage the growth of new blood vessels in the brain. The NHS also notes that exercise has been linked to lowering the risk of dementia.

Exercise can present an opportunity to be social

While there may be some exercises you prefer to do alone, it’s also an opportunity to spend time with family and friends or meet new people. Attending a fitness class or joining a walking group can expand your social circles in retirement that could help you enjoy this chapter of your life more.

5 tips for remaining active in retirement

If you want to increase the amount of exercise you’re doing, here are five tips that could help.

1. Speak to your GP if you have concerns

If you have any health concerns or aren’t sure what exercises are appropriate for you, you should speak to your GP. They will be able to offer advice and suggest activities that are right for you. It’s a step that can put your mind at ease.

2. Make time for warm-ups and cool-downs

When doing aerobic or strenuous activities, warming up and cooling down is important. Warming up can help prepare your body by increasing blood flow and raising your body temperature. This can help reduce muscle soreness and the risk of injury while you’re exercising. A cool-down allows you to gradually recover a pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.

3. Set weekly goals

A goal can keep you on track, but setting huge targets can be daunting and put you off. Setting a weekly aim, whether that’s to be active for 20 minutes a day or attend two fitness classes a week, can help keep you on track. Small improvements each week can really add up and help an active lifestyle become a habit.

4. Include a mix of exercises

Mixing up your exercise routine can not only keep it interesting, but deliver health benefits too. When creating an exercise plan, incorporating cardio, muscle strengthening, balance and flexibility exercises each week could help improve your overall health and wellbeing.

5. Find something that you enjoy

Finally, sometimes exercise can seem like a chore. Find something that you enjoy doing to retain your enthusiasm and an active lifestyle over the long term. Trying different activities to see what suits you is a great way to meet new people and create a plan that you’ll stick to.