Q: Should we force ourselves to exercise every day as much as possible?

By Dianne Allen

Sometimes it seems as if a person spends 18 years growing up, a few years as a young adult and then the suffering of age related complaints begins. Added to this, over indulgence in alcohol, food and any smoking actually speed up this ageing process.  It seems that losing fitness also speeds up the ageing process.

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Good grief! Any good news? Is there a panacea?

Well, trials all seem to demonstrate exercise helps reduce depression as well as physical problems such as high blood pressure and back pain so it seems a good candidate.

One good thing about ageing is that, with experience, it is possible to gain a little wisdom and learn to listen to our bodies telling us what is good and bad for those physical frames we inhabit. It is possible for a well-managed, healthy, elderly body to function better than a sedentary, poorly managed young one.

The best exercises for each individual are those that the person enjoys most. Well, thank goodness! Once we have convinced ourselves we do not enjoy excessive booze, fags and junk food at least we can enjoy our chosen way of keeping fit. Perhaps fell running, golf or Yoga do not appeal but how about walking, line dancing or swimming? It is often worthwhile finding an activity, which complements our habitual lifestyle, for example, a builder may benefit from some specific stretching exercises to maintain muscle balance and flexibility, whereas an office worker should look for a more aerobic
activity. Modern gyms welcome people of any age and fitness level and instructors will advise on how to use low weights and speeds which keep within the best heart rate range for each individual.

Q: Should we force ourselves to exercise every day as much as possible?

A: No, every good yoga teacher will explain how you should tune into what your body needs at that moment in time and it does vary. If you have an infection or acute condition rest is required so that your energies can be channelled into the healing process.

Whichever exercise you choose it is always worth being aware of posture and balance and remember that, although we cannot stop aging, there is a lot we can do to improve the style in which we mature.

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