In your 60s, wear and tear on your joints may become more apparent. Studies show one in three people over 60 suffer a fall each year, and, muscle weakness and impaired balance are factors.
Challenge: Chair test
Sit comfortably on a dining room chair, your feet firmly on the ground. Set a stopwatch, or use the secondhand on your watch, and simply stand without using your hands or arms for support, then sit again gently as many times as you can in 30 seconds. Healthy women in their 60s should be able to achieve at least 12 and men 14.
If you find this easy, progress to a softer, lower easy-chair which demands greater strength and balance to get up from and down without support, and see how many times you can get up and down out of the chair in 30 seconds. The targets are the same as above.
Stand tall on two feet, then raise the foot of the leg you consider to be your weakest. Balance on the other, keeping your eyes open and your arms relaxed at your sides. If you can balance for at least 22 seconds, you have the equilibrium of a 20-year-old; 15 seconds, that of a 30-year-old; 7.2 seconds, that of a 40-year-old; 3.7 seconds, that of a 50-year-old; and 2.5 seconds, that of a 60-year-old.
Adapting a workout routine for the 60s may mean curtailing aerobic exercise that jars and stresses the joints.
Your exercise aim: Adapting a workout routine for the 60s may mean curtailing aerobic exercise that jars and stresses the joints. So replace long runs with shorter jogging stints, cycling or power-walking and swimming. Strength training is still important, as are stretching and balance. If you are new to exercise ask at your local health centre about age-specific classes; aquarobics is an excellent gentle workout.
Aim to practise the test once every day and watch your score improve. Being able to perform regular squats like this – i.e. rising up and down from a chair without using your hands – keeps the muscles of the thighs and buttocks strong and is the key to maintaining independence in older age.
“Lose this ability, and you won’t be able to get on and off the loo by yourself,”
“If you are a keen gardener, don’t underestimate how fantastic the activity is for the strength of your arms, legs and overall stamina.”