It’s never too late… Fitness for Seniors

Fitness for Seniors

” With the rise of diabetes, obesity and heart attacks, getting physically fit has never been more important. And the reality is that it’s never too late to start. HEALTH meets the General Manager of Body and Soul Health Clubs Rohun Beven who explains how fitness for senior citizens can be embarked upon safely and effectively…”

Heart Pumping

Despite the age-defying benefits of getting fit, in America, seniors are the least physically active of all Americans – with 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men over 70 report that they never exercise. And importantly, beyond protection against heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, numerous studies suggest that regular exercise can lower the risk of decline which includes dementia and frailty – that spells the end of independence. Besides being the General Manager of Body and Soul Health Clubs LLC, Rohun Beven has been actively involved in the leisure industry for over 35 years. He stresses that as a guideline, after you reach age 35, the body begins losing its muscle mass. “Also due to the general sedentary lifestyle in the region, the percentage of people with heart disease and diabetes is one of the highest in the world,” he says. “After consulting with a doctor for approval, we recommend an individual partake in cardio-vascular exercise a minimum of 3 times per week for a minimum of twenty minutes.” Cardiovascular training essentially works the heart muscles and keeps the heart strong and healthy so besides brisk walking and jogging, other activities such as biking, swimming, playing tennis or badminton all fundamentally constitute cardiovascular exercise.


In addition to this, Beven adds that in order to help and to maintain muscle mass and keep the body flexible, a person should do resistance or strength training 2 times per week for 30 minutes. “If a gym is available, ask a qualified trainer for a workout routine,” he explains however if there is no gym then aim to do push ups, stomach crunches, back extensions, squats (for the legs) and calf raises which are all suitable if done regularly.

Fitness for Seniors

Get Moving

fitness for seniors

Understanding and actually wanting to make a lifestyle change is part of the process to getting healthier. In fact, Beven emphasizes that if you do not or have not exercised or played sport as a part of your daily routine, making the decision to embark on changing your lifestyle is the most difficult thing you will face. “Having made the decision, you must next decide when your exercise or participation in a sport will suit you best,” he says as the point is to have fun whilst doing it. “Remember that this activity should be enjoyable and not a task; if it is a task, you will very soon fail therefore select a time– mornings, lunchtime or evenings–that suits you best and stick to it.” Exercise is a very vast activity and can actually encompass playing a sport, swimming, walking, or jogging while Beven adds that even joining a yoga class will help you with flexibility and strengthen your muscles. He advises, “My four recommended exercises which can be easily done at home include cycling, running or brisk walking for approximately 20 minutes, push-ups, stomach crunches, leg squats and/or back extensions.”

Special Precautions

Beginning a new sport or exercise routine can put strain on the body, heart and muscles as it is not used to it, says Beven. “There are four simple rules that you should follow to avoid injury or over straining the heart; these include consulting with a doctor as well as seek advice from a personal trainer,” he says. “Also remember to always warm up gently; do not stretch cold muscles, a gentle walk or jog for 5 minutes raises the heart rate and warms the muscles.” And be aware that if you feel uncomfortable, take rest and refrain from pushing yourself to hard again. And remember, the activity, reminds Beven, should be fun. “And be sure to shower after exercise,” he advises.

Fitness for Seniors

Expert Advice

There is too much emphasis on exercise and using a gym and there are many other ways we can exercise, says Beven. “In days gone by, we exercised by playing sport and a less sedentary lifestyle in general,” he says. “My recommendation is to join a sports club, yoga group, (or boot-camp for the fitter) or get together with friends who are like-minded and play a sport or exercise together.” You will have more fun if you “compare notes” with a friend and enjoy the experience with other people.

Real Life Case Study:

When 65-year-old British expatriate John Sullivan was told he was diabetic and if he didn’t take care, would eventually need to take insulin injections to control his blood sugar levels, he opted to change his lifestyle completely. He explains, “Before I used to eat my dinner and then just sit down and relax or watch TV or read. Now I make sure after my meals I go for a brisk walk. I also do stomach crunches and squats every morning as advised by the doctor. After 2 months of doing this regime, my doctor has said I can continue with the tablets and do not need to take injections thanks to my getting physically fit…”

Fitness for Seniors

Body and Soul Health Clubs

The Body and Soul Health Clubs have 3 locations in the UAE– Ajman in Jurf, Dubai in Qusais, and Sharjah at Qasba. The overall membership is a total of over 3,000 members with approximately 5 percent over 50 years of age.

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