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Inspired by Sir Jim Ratcliffe? Experts reveals how over 60s can start their fitness journeys after Man United owner’s stunning marathon run



Sir Jim Ratcliffe showed age doesn’t have to be a barrier to fitness yesterday, after a spectacular performance at the London marathon.

The 71-year-old completed the 26.2-mile run in a time of just four hours, 32 minutes and 52 seconds.

His impressive time at the big event yesterday marked a personal best over the distance.

And after his run, he still had enough energy to race across London to watch his boyhood club Manchester United (in which he has a 25 per cent stake) play the second half of its FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Sir Jim, who started at just after 10am, is known as a keen athlete who enjoys a challenge.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe running in the London marathon. The 71-year-old achieved an impressive time of four hours, 32 minutes and 52 seconds

However, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to stay in shape in your 60s, you should just ensure that you are following the best fitness advice for your age group.

In fact, while most don’t have any ambitions to beat Sir Jim’s impressive performance, according to the NHS, older adults ‘should do some type of physical activity every day’. 

According to the organisation, physical activity can ‘help to improve your health and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke’.

However, it warns, before starting a fitness regime if you haven’t worked out for some time, it is essential to speak to a GP.

This is also the case if you have ‘medical conditions or concerns’, in which case you should ‘make sure your activity and its intensity are appropriate for your fitness’. 

Joanna Dase, from international fitness franchise Curves, previously told FEMAIL that there are key workouts and exercises for each decade.

She suggested those aged above 60 should ‘be sure to pay attention to balance and flexibility to stay safe and supple’. 

Joanna explained: ‘During your 60s, you can still do the same exercises that you enjoyed before, but you may need to slightly modify the movement.

The 71-year-old shows off his medal after his impressive performance in the London Marathon - proving age doesn't have to stop you from doing everything you enoy

The 71-year-old shows off his medal after his impressive performance in the London Marathon – proving age doesn’t have to stop you from doing everything you enoy

‘For example, you can still do a squat, but you may need to limit the range or the length of the hold.’

She added: ‘As bone and muscle density decreases, it is critical to continue your focus on strength training but be sure to pay attention to balance and flexibility to stay safe and supple.’

According to Joanna, there are several tips to bear in mind when starting a fitness regime in your 60s.

Joanna said: ‘Keep it simple in the 60s.

‘Aim for a balanced moderate daily routine where you do what you love! 

‘With any exercise, your main aims should be to prevent injury, increase mobility, and maintain quality of life with your movements.’

According to the NHS, those in their 60s should aim for some activity – even if it is just light – every day. 

It lists light activity as getting up to make a cup of tea; moving around your home; walking at a slow pace; cleaning and dusting; vacuuming; making the bed; and standing up.’

When it comes to moderate activity, which it defines as leaving you able to talk, but not sing, it recommends 150 minutes weekly.

NHS: Working out for those aged 65+ 

 Adults aged 65 and over should:

  • aim to be physically active every day, even if it’s just light activity
  • do activities that improve strength, balance and flexibility on at least 2 days a week
  • do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity if you are already active, or a combination of both
  • reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity

If you’ve fallen or are worried about falling, doing exercises to improve your strength, balance and flexibility will help make you stronger and feel more confident on your feet.

Source: NHS 

This could include walking for health;  water aerobics; riding a bike; dance for fitness; doubles tennis; pushing a lawn mower; and hiking.’

Alternatively, it suggests those in the age bracket do 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.

According to the NHS: ‘Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast. 

‘If you’re working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.’

It adds: ‘In general, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity.

‘Most moderate intensity activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort.’

The activities it lists include running; aerobics; swimming; riding a bike fast or on hills; singles tennis; football; hiking uphill; dance for fitness; and martial arts.’

And it turns out that exercising in later life is not just good for fitness: a 2023 study found that exercising just once a month at any age can help stave off dementia in later life, a study found.

In the first study to look specifically at age, exercise and brain health in retirement, researchers from University College London wanted to see whether timing of active lifestyles had an impact.

It found that keeping active throughout adulthood is the best bet for good brain health in retirement but even taking up exercise in your 60s is beneficial, the research suggested. 

They found those who regularly exercise as they age are more likely to have good brain health than those who exercise in spells then give up.

But any level of exercise – from brisk walks to gym workouts – gave participants boosted brain power when compared to those who did not do any, they said.

Lead author, Dr Sarah-Naomi James, said: ‘Our study suggests that engaging in any leisure-time physical activity, at any point in adult life, has a positive effect on cognition.

‘This seems to be the case even at light levels of activity, between once to four times a month.

‘What’s more, people who have never been active before, and then start to be active in their 60s, also appear to have better cognitive function than those who were never active.

‘The greatest cognitive effect was seen for those who stayed physically active throughout their life.

‘The effect is accumulative, so the longer an individual is active, the more likely they are to have higher later-life cognitive function.’

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