Fighting Fit and Fighting Falls in Later Years
At 87 years old Jean David is almost as fleet-footed around the table tennis table as she was when she was a girl, playing her friends at the local youth club.
A later-life fitness enthusiast Jean might easily be the poster ‘girl’ for the latest Public Health Wales and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Get Up and Go initiative – a campaign encouraging older people to help cut their risk of falls by moving more and by improving their balance, agility and strength.
Jean continues: Exercise can be effective therapy for any number of health issues. I have lymphedema – which is a swelling caused by excess fluid in the arms or legs - and my doctor was very pleased that I was doing so much regular exercise because it is therapeutic.
Of course, fitness is only one reason to exercise regularly in a group. Jean says: “I have made so many good friends at the LC and we socialise together a lot, so if miss a class people notice. They will call in on me to make sure I am alright – like many older people I live alone so it is comforting me for and for my family to know people are looking out for me. I am fit and I’m confident on my feet but if I were to suffer a fall or an accident someone would be there.”
My training for the JCP Swansea Half Marathon in June has been going well but I’m struggling to complete distance runs at the moment – I hit the wall at around 12 miles.
Well done for making a commitment to the half marathon this year.
While long runs are necessary to test your endurance you should focus too on building up your lower body strength using resistance exercises which target the legs and hips. This will help build the muscles you need to power through your distance barrier.
A weekly hill training session would help you to build useful leg muscle too. If you find you are running out of energy early on in your run, remember to start off at a steadier pace and to stay well hydrated – this should help with your stamina.
It may be that the barrier you are encountering is a mental one as well as a physical one. Do you find your attention dwindling after ten miles or so? You might want to team up with a running buddy who has similar fitness goals so you can help keep each other motivated. The LC hosts a regular RunSwansea seminar, supported by HMT Sancta Maria, with experts sharing valuable insights and specialist knowledge. Keep up to date with those here.
I am dieting and I have lost over two stone but my tummy is hanging around. I have avoided the gym so far because I am self-conscious about my weight, but will exercise help me shift my tum?
A healthy diet full of vegetables, good levels of protein and healthy fats, and low in sugar should help you continue to lose weight all over, so keep up the good work! It is very important for you to take up regular exercise to reinforce that good work - and including weight-bearing exercise in your regime will help you to burn more calories, even when you are at rest.
Please come in and talk to one of our instructors who can help draw up a tailored fitness plan for you including some cardio and some weight-bearing exercise, to help you build muscle. I know you will find the LC a welcoming place to work out.
Exercises designed to tone the abdomen and core can help – why not join our Ab Blast class on a Wednesday at 7.15pm or Monday at 6.30pm? Or if you are an LC member you can sign up to our friendly and supportive Shape Up Plan lifestyle club for free.
But it is only when the weight goes that you will see those tightened muscles emerge – so keep setting your weight loss goals and celebrate your successes so far!
Mustapha Khassouani is a fully qualified personal trainer at the LC and the centre’s newest instructor.
His friendly manner and his very positive approach to exercise is already proving popular with LC users.
Jason Dinning is a fully qualified personal trainer at the LC and the centre’s longest serving instructor.
He has specialist training in cardiac rehabilitation and he runs the Exercise Referral Scheme, helping people with health issues improve their fitness and mobility.