How does going to the gym help when you’re older?

Fitness, Seniors
dumbbells for gym

I started to walk up the stairs in a café, when I saw a woman waiting at the top of the stairs. She was wanting to come down the stairs, so I ran up the rest of the stairs. When I got to the top, she said: “I wish I could do that.” My reply was:

“You can, if you go to the gym.”

She looked very puzzled, as she stated walking slowly down the stairs.

People often tell me that I’m lucky to be so fit and active. Sometimes people say things like “I wish I could be more active, but I’m in my sixties.” They are amazed when I tell them that I’m in my seventies.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to work with a personal trainer. He has told me that I am one of his hardest working clients. He sometimes uses me as an example with other clients. I asked him what the typical response was. He said it makes some people try harder, but others dismiss it:

“It must be her genes.”

I come from a family that didn’t engage in a lot of exercise. We didn’t have a car so we walked most places, but we very rarely walked more than 3 miles. My parents and brother would bike. (I didn’t lean to ride a bike till I was in my forties, but that’s a whole other story.)

I remember when I was quite small running around the garden on a hot day. My mother stopped me on the grounds that I was sweating a lot and it would make me ill. I was definitely not encouraged to be fit as a child.

People say things like: “You’re lucky to be so well and active.” Or “I wish I was slim like you.”

It’s partly down to “luck” in that I have the money to afford a personal trainer. I have a supportive partner who also enjoys being fit and healthy. It also represents many hours in the gym and on my bike. It also represents wise food choices.

Making these choices helps keep me fit into my seventies. I hope it will help keep me fit and well into my eighties and nineties. This morning my personal trainer joked that he would still be training me when I’m a 100. I said: “I hope so.”

Going to the gym is one of the best things I do. It helps me destress and feel good about myself. I started around nine years ago. I was really nervous at first, but now I wish I’d started going much earlier. I think some gyms are very intimidating. You need to choose your gym carefully. Independent gyms are often more welcoming and less impersonal.

I’ve felt such benefits from going. There’s the sense of achievement in the gym. I can now lift a 60kg barbell off the ground and stand up with it, five times in succession. I can touch my toes and balance on one leg, things I couldn’t do even as a child. Lifting weights at the gym has given me better posture. It means I can recover much more quickly if I trip or stumble; I’m much less concerned walking down uneven slopes. I can run upstairs (handy as I live in a house with three floors). I feel generally better about myself and every day chores are easier too.

I meet lots of women who say the gym is boring and that it doesn’t work for them. I think this is because they don’t usually work hard when they go, so they don’t see any improvements. Of course, you have to start slowly, but you should always feel like you’re making an effort. You’ll soon see an amazing improvement inside and outside the gym. If you work hard, you’ll gradually lift heavier and heavier weights and your body will thank you for it. Your body will start to look better too. Going to the gym is a really reliable anti-ageing activity.