Article by Rosemary Mallace
What do you do when you retire? Put your feet up? In my case, literally. I took voluntary redundancy, got my old age pension and enrolled on a course to become a Personal Fitness Trainer. “Why on earth would you want to do that?” people have asked. Well, I had overheard a man in his 60s complaining to a young gym instructor that younger trainers don’t understand the aches and pains that older people can have when exercising. This started an idea that wouldn’t go away and so I found myself in the summer of 2011 capering around on a course with, generally, much younger people, having the time of my life.
I spent that summer completing the Certificate in Personal Training. It was hard going because our instructor insisted that we should experience what it was like to do all the exercises we were expecting to teach. ‘Should a woman my age be spending the summer like this?’ I asked myself, lying on a gym mat, legs in the air. After gaining the Certificate in Personal Training I completed the Exercise and the Older Adult Certificate which allowed me to specialise in working with people over 50.
Exercise over 50 is important and fun
When I started on this journey I knew that exercise was important, and fun – let’s not forget fun. Now, 4 years later, I am convinced that it is vital. Without wanting to scare people, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and some cancers are caused mainly by a sedentary lifestyle. We are all living longer, but in many cases that just means living longer with illness. That’s why I’ll never stop exercising. Ideally, I’d like to do for exercise and health what Jamie Oliver did for nutrition and school meals. For me, it’s quality of life, rather than quantity, although both would be nice.
My mission, then, is to show people, particularly those who have been inactive most of their lives, that it’s never too late to start. I concentrate on ‘functional’ exercises. That is, exercises that help people with daily living activities. Strong legs to climb stairs. Supple shoulders to be able to reach high shelves. Strong heart and lungs. And walking. Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise. Most people can do it and it’s free. No need to go to the gym or use complicated equipment.
Research has shown that walking 6,000 steps every day has major benefits for health and can reduce the likelihood of developing the diseases I mentioned above. Get a pedometer to measure your steps from when you wake up to when you go to bed and off you go.
As Bette Davies said ‘Old age ain’t for cissies.’
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Rosemary is also a regular contributor to Retire Savvy