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Keeping fit 01 Dec 2020

Rise of the AOPs (athletic older people)

How physical activity is helping the over 60s

Bupa study shows physical activity is helping the 60 plus generation to feel younger than their years - as well as doing wonders for their health.

The over 60s are fitter than ever, leaving their younger counterparts behind when it comes to exercise.

Research from Bupa's ‘How are you Britain?’ report reveals people over the age of 60 are three times more likely to exercise every day than those in their 20s.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of people over 60 work out at least five times a week, with just 15% of 20-somethings making a similar effort.

It is age-defying celebrities who are spurring on the AOPs (athletic older people). Our research placed Helen Mirren (aged 65) at the top of the list of inspirational celebrities (19%), closely followed by Joanna Lumley (15%).

Reaping the benefits

As a result of exercise, the over 60s are enjoying a greater quality of life, with a third losing weight and 26% feeling less stressed. A few even attribute their better luck with the opposite sex to exercise.

All this physical activity is helping the 60-plus generation to feel younger than their years as well as doing wonders for their health.

Simon Fairthorne, musculoskeletal physiotherapist from Bupa’s Barbican Centre for Sports Medicine, London, said: “The benefits this generation is experiencing from exercise are substantial – they are less likely to suffer from chronic illness than their parents and have a longer life expectancy. It also helps reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol, as well as improving mental health and overall wellbeing.”

“The emergence of the AOPs is very encouraging as more than a third (37%) of over 60s feel they are exercising more now than they did 10 years ago.”

Walking is the most popular form of exercise (79%), followed by swimming and cycling. However there are also those who are embracing the new 'keep fit' methods provided by technology with 3% doing exercise programmes on gaming consoles such as the Wii Fit and X-Box Kinect.

Going for gold

Not content with general exercise, some AOPs are going one step further and competing in endurance sports events.

The Bupa Great North Run has experienced a 14% boost in entries over the past five years in the older age group.The enthusiasm is paying off with both sexes now completing the half marathon in record time. On average, females in the older age group are finishing the run over 10 minutes faster , while men are almost five minutes quicker than they were six years ago.

Become an AOP

Fairthorne offers three tips on how to become an athletic older person:

  • Ease yourself in – if you have not exercised for a long period, it is best to start off slowly
  • If you have any ongoing medical conditions it would be sensible to check with your doctor first
  • Keep hydrated throughout exercising
  • Stay motivated – listening to music, exercising with friends and varying your exercise routine will all help keep you on track

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