Fantastic post, a huge amount of accumulated wisdom about what I call “living longer better”.

I’ve been exercising quite rigorously for 20+ years since I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I’ve made every mistake in the book and probably a few extra, but I've sorted it out now.

I agree with everything you recommend, there are always aches and pains at our age (72 this year) and you need to navigate your way through them, as long as you’re not making things worse.

A couple of things I would add to your advice, based on my observations:

Lack of attention to balance and flexibility

The two things that most of those my age do most poorly at the gym (or in terms of exercise) are paying enough attention to their balance, and to flexibility.

I rarely see anyone — other than me — doing balance exercises other than in some classes.

And people hate warming up and warming down so they don’t to that.

Paying more attention to balance and flexibility pays big benefits in keeping as agile and athletic for longer. Of course, as you say, you can do it all at home, especially at this time.

Neglecting to stand on their own two feet

It disturbs me that so many older people get directed by the PTs onto the gym machines. We don’t need isolation exercises at our age (or at any age). They’d get a lot more benefit utilising their whole neuromuscular chain from their brain to their feet.

When we sit on the machines our brain switches off, and our feet switch off, and our teams of muscles switch off. That’s why they are called isolation machines.

Every day at the gym I see the results of older people (meaning 50+) who have predominantly used the machines for long periods — 5 or 6 years. They can’t manage a pushup, can’t use a Swiss ball without rolling off, and, of course, can’t balance on one leg.

In terms of fitness for living longer better, they’d be better served by bodyweight exercises, rowing, using the cable machines, TRX, and best of all kettlebells (but they hate kettlebells so we won’t go there).

And of course, running — which I hated until two years ago — is a fabulous way to build balance and coordination, and you might get to love it as I have.

Thanks for all the insights.

Optimistically curious, 70+ trail runner; 2X cancer; diabetic; Click “FOLLOW” for living longer better tips | Weekly Newsletter 👉