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Guide to an Affordable Later Lifestyle - Keeping Fit Physically

If we are to enjoy our later lifestyle to the full, we need to be physically fit enough to do all those things that we want to do. This means keeping physically active and healthy, which has benefits in helping to reduce our chances of getting things such as strokes and heart attacks as well as enabling us to make the most of our later lifestyle.

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It doesn't mean taking up a training programme akin to that of an Olympic athlete! What it does mean is keeping active so that our body can cope with everything that we want to do. It means doing active things within our own capabilities and that we enjoy. Some of those things cost money; joining a private gym might set us back somewhere in the region of £100 per month. However, there are things that we can do that are either free or cost very little, such as:

  • Product DetailsWalking
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Gardening

What's more, if we join a walking group, for example, such as The Ramblers we get to meet people and make new friends at the same time.

Age UK recommends four categories of keeping physically fit for the over 50s and it's useful to think about these categories when we consider our physical activities in later life. With all four, there are things that we can do that cost very little or no money.

The four are:

  • Stamina. By this, Age UK mean raising our heart rate and getting out of breath so that we keep our heart and lungs working well. Things that we can do in this category that are cheap to do are activities such as brisk walking, running, cycling and swimming. We can do classes such as aerobics and aquafit, which  cost money, of course, but there is the added advantage of meeting new people. If we're thinking about classes, probably the cheapest place to go is the local council-run leisure centre. Once you're a certain age, you'll even get a discount!

  • Muscle Strength. We need to do activities that help us to maintain our muscle tone and strength as we get older. This where things such as walking up stairs or hills, gardening, housework, cleaning the car and DIY (none of which cost money) can help. We can do strength exercises at home, for free, or we can join a gym, which is not for free. Again, however, the cheapest place to go to the gym, should you wish to, is probably the council leisure centre.

  • Flexibility. We do get a bit stiffer as we get older, so we need to do activities that will keep our joints working and our body supple. The cheapest way to do this is to spend five or ten minutes a day stretching at home. We can also do activities such as Pilates, Yoga or T'ai Chi, which usually involve joining a class. We now know where the cheapest classes probably are and we get the added benefit of the social contact.

  • Balance and Co-ordination. Older people fall over more often than younger people because of the gradual deterioration in our sense of balance. Activities that we can do to maintain our ability to balance and that don't cost much include cycling and cross country walking and running. Alternatively, we can practise standing on one leg at home, we can hop around the kitchen or build a balancing course round the garden.

Joining a sports club is a good way of doing physical activity in one or more of these categories (depending on the sport) and meeting people and making new friends. Some sports clubs, such as golf clubs, are relatively expensive but many bowls clubs are cheap to join as are indoor sports clubs such as table tennis and badminton.

Physical activity is good for us and it can be lots of fun, too. It can provide the opportunity of making new friends and it doesn't have to cost money. Look at the options that you have in your area and choose the ones that are either free or that you can afford within your later lifestyle budget.

Now read the rest of the Guide to discover other ways in which you can enjoy an affordable later lifestyle. If you have any ideas of your own that we can add to this Guide, please complete the feedback form

This Guide to an Affordable Later Lifestyle is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.


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