There are so many benefits to getting some gentle exercise, and none of us are too old to remember how much fun it is running around. There's still nothing quite like getting out and getting your heart rate up to make you feel alive – and some of the best ideas don't even require Lycra.

In this short film, we meet Malcolm, Dave and Lyn, and Clarissa who tell us why they love playing tennis in their retirement.

Why is it important to exercise as I get older?  

Studies have shown that older adults who do physical activity are healthier and less likely to develop long-term conditions like type 2 diabetes, or suffer from osteoporosis or back pain.

As long as you go about it sensibly, exercising has few risks, and certainly fewer than doing very little physical activity as the alternative. The benefits of exercise include:

  • Making you physically stronger and therefore less likely to become ill or incapacitated.
  • Making it more achievable to manage your weight.
  • Providing you with a greater sense of confidence and wellbeing.
  • Often helping you sleep better.

What sort of physical activity could I try?

Any activities like walking, swimming or cycling are good ways to get your heart and lungs going. This kind of aerobic fitness improves circulation and means you’ll be more likely to carry on with daily activities as you get older.

You could also try strength training. By lifting anything from shopping bags to light weights at a gym, you could maintain muscle and even improve your balance. This may help you avoid falls in later life.

How much exercise should I do?

We’re not saying you need to be running marathons – little and often is always better than one big burst of activity. If you can, try to aim for thirty minutes, five times a week. It needn’t be all done at once, and if you haven’t exercised in a while, it’s probably best that you work up gently to this level rather that hit it all in one go! 

What if I’m not in the best of health?

Talk to your doctor. Your GP can discuss your exercise options with you including simple exercises you can do at home such as the ones recommended by the NHS. Remember, if you ever feel dizzy, short of breath or unwell whilst exercising, stop and seek medical attention immediately. 

Where can I go to exercise?

Your local area is likely to have a range of facilities that are run privately or by the local authority. These will include gyms, swimming pools, exercise classes etc. There are a wealth of activities available that enable you to get good physical exercise at your own pace. You can even go out in the local countryside and do a spot of walking with the ramblers association.

How much does it cost?

Taking out membership at a private gym can be expensive – and even off-peak you may have to spend £30 or £40 a month. Local authority sports centres, and local community facilities are likely to offer much cheaper alternatives – and many only require you to pay for the use of the facilities when you need them. The average cost of a swim at your local swimming pool for instance is likely to only be £3-4 and the same for an exercise class. More expensive hobbies that require expensive equipment or specialist tuition will be more, so it’s worth finding out what level of commitment you need to make and the cost before you sign up!