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Five steps to getting in shape

Planning a big walking trip, or even an overseas jaunt far from home? Here’s how to make sure you’re in the best shape possible.

There’s no sugar coating it: getting into shape is harder as we age. We are simply less mobile, less agile and more prone to injury. But that does not mean we have to stay under a blanket on the couch. If you have a big walk planned, an active getaway or even just a wander along the beach with friends, you can aim to improve your fitness in a safe fashion.

1. Get a check-up

To start on any exercise plan, at any age, you should start with a basic visit to the doctor to make sure you are in good health, and to help them plan your new fitness regime. Tell your doctor the sort of activities you are thinking about and your long-term goals.

2. Take it easy

Make sure you ease into things. There’s no point in going from nought to 100, or you will end up with an injury. Listen to your body’s aches and pains – they are telling you when to slow down.

3. Keep it regular

Make sure you exercise regularly. Just like bad habits, good habits are easier to maintain when you do them more often. Try to do four days a week of basic walking and stretching and do similar times so you get into a nice routine.

4. Stay interested

You need to pick something you enjoy. Don’t join a gym if you hate the idea of walking through the door, and do not like lifting weights. If you are not a swimmer, don’t head down to the local pool. Find something that you love doing and incorporate exercise into that. It might be adding some more strenuous hills to walking the dog or picking up the pace when you go for a walk in the woods. And look for specific seniors classes in things like yoga, swimming or aqua aerobics.

5. Be practical

Don’t forget to manage your expectations or you will end up getting disgruntled. If the last time you embarked on an exercise plan was a decade a go, realise that things will be slower this time around. Set achievable goals and cut yourself some slack if you don’t always reach them, as long as you keep trying.

The benefits to staying fit are huge. It can reduce stress, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, and keep your mind in better shape as well. It is tempting to think we cannot keep fit as we get older, but with a few simple tricks and a sensible outlook you can plan that mountain holiday with the family in no time.