According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria has one of the lowest life expectancies, not just in Africa, but in the world. On average the life expectancy for Nigerians is around 54 years old. WHO links the poor figures to a number of health-related issues including heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, kidney problems and some cancers.

But the good news is that most of these health issues could be prevented with just a few lifestyle changes. A healthy diet, along with regular exercise is crucial in staying healthy and living longer.

Lift weights to live longer

In fact, weight lifting can actually help you live longer. A study has found that weight training can help older adults live longer. It could even cut the risk of an early death by 19%. Researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine found that 46% of those who lifted weights were less likely to die than those who didn’t lift. Weight lifting strengthens the muscles, which helps to improve balance and stamina and can also increase bone density.

And it’s never too late to start.

No age limit on fitness

If you are worried about your age or need inspiration to get started, then consider the story of 78-year-old Shirley Webb from Illinois in the U.S. Just two years ago, she couldn’t even get up off the floor without assistance, but she decided to change all that and get fit. Now, Shirley can lift a 225-pound weight while hardly breaking a sweat. So just like Shirley, any older person can get fit and improve their health, stamina and mobility.

Getting started

It’s easy to get started with exercise. If you are completely new to fitness training, or have a preexisting condition, then it’s worth speaking to your doctor first.

Here are a few tips to get your fitness program started:

·        Get fit with a friend – It’s not always easy to get started, especially if you have never been to a gym before, so get yourself a workout buddy to help you stay motivated and have fun while you exercise too.

  • Choose the right gym – There are a number of gyms opening up across Nigeria, so take a look around and choose somewhere you feel comfortable with.
  • Start slow and pace yourself –  If you haven’t been active in a while, build up your exercise program slowly and steadily. There is no need to go at it full throttle.
  • Always warm up and cool down – This is key to avoiding injuries and discomfort.
  • Be committed – To help you get into the routine of regular exercise, stick to an exercise schedule for at least three or 4 weeks so that it becomes habit. There may be times you have to force yourself, but before long it should become habit.
  • Find activities you enjoy – It’s easier to stick to an exercise routine if you enjoy it. So, try out a few classes to see what you like.

Benefits of exercise for older people

Exercise is key to a healthy life. It makes you stronger, fitter and healthier. But often as people get older they think they are too old for exercise, or they worry that it will actually do them more harm. But in actual fact, exercise should be considered by everybody as an essential part of our daily lives. It’s particularly important as you get older. A regular exercise routine can help increase energy levels, reduce stiffness, boost your mood, increase strength and even improve your memory.

***Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.

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