Research published last week shed further light on the benefits of taking up exercise at any stage in your life. According to the study by Erik Prestgaard of the University of Oslo, getting fit in your 40s and 50s could halve your long term risk of a stroke.
Fitness in mid-life has always been considered good for the heart, but nobody until now has linked this to stroke risk. The positive message for those of you whose friends or other halves have yet to get off the couch is that starting exercising at any age will make a difference. The key is to be active and exercising – your past fitness history is largely irrelevant.
As we all know, government recommendations are to do 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise (such as Nordic walking) a week. But don’t just think in terms of your heart and lungs - balance, flexibility and muscle strength are equally as important. I was discussing this with one of my Nordic walking groups this week, someone having raised the issue of osteoporosis. As a weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise Nordic walking helps counteract the natural loss in bone mass and density that comes with age. It also helps prevent falls in the first place by strengthening your core muscles which in turn help improve balance. Almost 50% of women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis so it is something we all need to take seriously. There is some good information on bone building exercises on the National Osteoporosis website - and also in an article contributed to one of my previous blogs by Dr Sally Norton. Click here to read it.
I would also highly recommend our Nordic walking workout classes which incorporate specific muscle strengthening exercises into an energetic Nordic walk. You do not need to be super fit to join these classes, especially those on the Downs. They both help improve muscle mass and muscle definition – a win win combination!