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Always known for his physical prowess, 81-year-old golfer Gary Player was recently spotted running on a treadmill, putting younger gym users to shame. “Mr. Fitness” has always worked out and his chosen sport of golf can be enjoyed at any age. A few aches and pains shouldn’t put anyone off continuing to exercise throughout their life and simple changes to a regime with each decade is all that is needed to keep training and enjoying the health benefits it brings.

Warm up to avoid injury
Gentle activities like walking around a golf course are great for general levels of fitness but older players may need to take a little extra care with their swing. As we age, muscles and joints are prone to injury with any sudden movement and can take longer to recover. Stretching and warm up exercises targeting shoulders and arms before setting off on the fairway or enjoying a game of tennis will reduce the risk of muscle injury and minimise aches and pains at the end of the day. To avoid damaging muscles or joints further, any low-impact exercise is better for a sustainable regime. Swimming and cycling will put less of a strain on joints than pounding the pavement jogging and running.

Keep moving to build muscle mass
As Gary Player proves, slowing down as you age is not inevitable. Most people will, however, need to start making changes to their workout regime from as early as the age of 30. Depleted muscle mass can make pensioners use up 16% more energy than youngsters when walking which can lead to feeling more tired and so less inclined to exercise. A stimulating round of 18 holes is great motivation to walk five miles and, because of stronger muscle memory and muscle maturity with age exercising, even with less intensity, will show positive results sooner.  As well as building muscle, short, regular bursts of lifting weights can increase bone density and this will improve conditions like osteoporosis where women can lose up to lose up to 20% of bone density after hitting middle age.

Cool down to improve flexibility
For a gentler workout, simply enjoying strength building exercises like yoga can help improve flexibility and balance which are particularly useful in helping to prevent falls. Although aches and pains can be off-putting, increased movement can help with conditions such as arthritis by keeping the joints supple and preventing them from becoming stiff. Even gentle exercise will also help keep weight in check. This, in turn, will alleviate the strain on joints and will also help with many conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Staying active with age is vital to keeping fit and healthy. With some simple, gradual changes to a workout regime, there’s no reason for anyone to stop training and exercising in order to enjoy a longer and better quality of life.

Author: Jennifer Dawson