Exercise plays a key part in living well and longer – keeping both mind and body in good health. Many of us will have done our best to stay active during the ‘lockdown’, but it is only recently that we have been allowed to return to more formal exercise classes, with some still yet to get going again.
If you have not exercised for a while, make sure that you are fit enough to start an exercise programme. That may mean checking with your GP if you have an underlying health issue, otherwise start slowly and work up to something more demanding.
There are lots of activities that you can do which are mainly tailored to the ‘silver sneakers’. Senior classes and fitness programmes are usually very welcoming and encouraging. They often lead to friendships outside of class – another bonus!
Here are a few ideas for exercise, either alone, or with others:
Go for a walk
Walking is a great way to stay fit. For some greenery and peace, try Streatham Common. There is a self-guided nature walk that takes you round the Common whilst learning about the different trees that grow there. Look and listen for the local birds. You can pick up a leaflet at the Rookery Café.
Looking for something more spiritual? Why not try T’ai Chi?
A very gentle, evidence-based approach to reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and benefiting the entire cardiovascular system, T’ai Chi is also one of the most effective ways of improving balance and muscle strength. This is especially importance as we get older to help reduce the risk of falls. By practising the slow, stylised, dance-like movements, your concentration will improve and you will learn to live more in the moment.
Stretch your mind and body
Yoga is a gentle form of exercise ideal for seniors. These are specialist yoga classes that focus on the fitness and mobility needs of older men and women. They offer a gentle yoga practice designed to keep you fit and healthy. Look for specialist yoga classes for over 50s, 60s and 70s. They offer a route to flexibility and stress relief via a low impact form of exercise that is ideal for older age groups.
Take a Silver Swans class
The Royal Academy of Dance has developed a Silver Swans initiative for older learners so they, too, can take part in ballet classes. Whether you’re an experienced dancer, have briefly dabbled or are a complete novice, they welcome all older learners of any ability. These classes are currently free online, due to the Covid restrictions, so you can plié In the comfort of your own home. You’ll be in good company – the Duchess of Cornwall has become a recent convert.
Once formal classes resume, the Royal Academy of Dance in Battersea holds regular tuition sessions.
Gym, Cycle, Swim
If you feel ready for something a bit more strenuous, don’t forget to check out what is on offer at Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre. There is a wide range of activities from keep fit, zumba and aerobics to swimming and cycling. More classes and activities will become available as Covid restrictions ease.