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Get a Move on: How age affects your physical health and wellness Thumbnail

Get a Move on: How age affects your physical health and wellness

The adage that you’re as old as you feel is great for individuals who have made staying active a priority. But for the over 55 per cent of Canadians who spend their time at sedentary desk jobs and lying down in front of the TV evenings and weekends, it may be time to turn back the clock. We had a chance to talk to Maarika Arget, National Health Promotion and Wellness Consultant at Tri Fit to learn how age affects your physical health and wellness, how much physical activity is enough, and the three key steps to getting, and hopefully staying, in shape.

Does my age effect what I can and can’t do when it comes to staying fit and healthy?

One great predictor of aging actively is to develop a routine early in life. By developing a love of physical activity in your youth, you’re more likely to stick with it. Those who maintain their flexibility, strength and
 cardiovascular health over time will also see that everyday tasks like taking the stairs, tying their shoes and carrying groceries continue to be manageable. Independent living is something we take for granted in our younger years, but staying active can help us to keep our independence much later in life.


How much exercise is a good amount every week to keep me agile and get the health benefits from?

There are many schools of thought, but the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists recommends at least 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more for adults aged 18-64. CSEP also recommends muscle and bone strengthening exercise on at least two days per week.

For those who wear activity trackers, 10,000 steps has become a daily target for many. While there are benefits to 10,000 steps, the most important thing is to become more active. If 10,000 steps seems out of reach, start where you are and gradually build up.

What are the common mistakes people make as they age, when it comes to exercise?

The toughest one that I see is that people decide ‘I’m too old to {insert activity here}.’ Regardless of age, many of us set limitations on ourselves and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The first time we see this is in teen girls. Many of them are active as children, but give up sports due to peer pressure and lack of opportunities. After this, it can be much harder and more intimidating to get back into sports and physical activity.

Are there three things individuals, no matter how old they are, should watch out for when getting in shape?

  1. Start slowly. Many people are excited to get started and overdo it in their first workouts. This leaves them in pain, potentially injured and demotivated. Add time and intensity to your workouts gradually to stay pain-free, motivated and on track. When you’re feeling discouraged, look back to day one and appreciate how far you’ve come!
  2. Set a goal and assemble your support system. Whether it’s running 5 km, feeling fitter for an upcoming vacation or getting off your blood pressure medication, a goal can be what pushes you to keep going.
  3. The next step is to assemble your team. Tell somebody to keep you accountable, ask the experts for advice and set clear, measurable short-term goals to get you to your end goal.

Be kind to yourself. You may be nervous, intimidated and feeling like a flabby fish out of water in the gym, pool or on the court. Just remember that everyone was in your shoes once. While you may be worried about how you look, the only way to get fitter and stronger is to start the journey. Be kind to yourself and stay on track.

Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.