Fitness cartoon

Published on February 16th, 2014 | by Margaret Pardoe


Exercise – Why?

Nothing is more likely to send me head-first into a whole packet of chocolate digestives, than a lycra-clad fitness guru on television telling me that I would need to run for fifty minutes or more to burn off the calories in one small chocolate bar!

In fact, the whole concept sounds so depressing it’s likely to send me straight back onto the sofa!

They must know it doesn’t work like that!!

Instead exercise increases your metabolic rate for several hours, and so more calories are burned up following exercise.

I so prefer Paul McKenna’s take on this where he describes weight loss as creating a release of energy which needs to be channelled into something physically active and fun:

But what kind of exercise?

Anything that you want!

If it feels like fun you are much more likely to want to keep doing it!

“We do not quit playing because we grow old. We grow old because we quit playing”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Remember how much fun it was playing in snow? Nowadays you can do that year round in Snowdomes! And even in the desert in Dubai!

Exercise doesn’t have to be the nightmare of school-style sports, or gruelling gym sessions or “no pain, no gain” Fonda-style fitness. Unless this is what you enjoy.

Children do most activity when it’s not recorded! Not in formal games sessions at school or classes, but when they are playing!

Choose something that feels like playing and you’ll be so much more likely to stick to it. So if dancing feels like fun – DANCE! If swimming mind-numbing laps leaves you cold – swim instead at a water park zipping down slides! Unless you like swimming laps.

If you are older or very overweight, you may need to use your imagination a bit more!

You may find that your tastes have changed since you were eight years old – just go with the flow! But as the following is the exercise that is the most fun for me personally, and apparently my tastes haven’t changed that much…..over half a century on, and my preference is still for water and slides! The annual membership for me to use the indoor water park at Alton Towers is about the same as a 1 month gym membership! And for me, so much more fun! Have a look at their website at


But do something – you need to move! Because….

Exercise alone will not be enough to create weight loss (especially if you are overweight and unfit already)


If you try to lose weight without exercise, you’ll lose muscle and gain fat, ending up fatter and flabbier than you were to start with!

NB Before starting any exercise programme it’s best to check first with your qualified medical advisor.

Any movement is useful, although some is more effective than others.

Choose something that you like to do and that matches your current level of fitness and funds.

Unless you are already fighting fit, there are some forms of exercise that are more suitable for the over-fifties. You can stick with these or use them as preparation for more physically challenging activities as your level of fitness increases.

The most obvious form of exercise is walking, in any of its forms, and in many cases there is no cost involved.

Next is gardening! And if you are lucky enough to have a garden to cultivate, by growing food crops you have the added bonus of home-grown food along with physical fitness.

Swimming is especially good if you are overweight as you can exercise more intensively with less risk to joints and bones as they are supported by the water.

Yoga is much misunderstood in Western culture, but at its most basic level, provides a series of stretching exercises and with regular practice is known to reduce stress, which is a major factor in weight gain for many people.

Tai chi and qi gong increase energy (chi or qi) flow and improve health through gentle, graceful, repeated movements.

Pilates is an exercise system that focuses on stretching and strengthening the whole body to improve balance, muscle-strength, flexibility and posture. It was created by German-born Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s and incorporates elements of yoga, martial arts and Western forms of exercise.

Dance is both exercise and an artform and usually involves rhythmic body movement to music. There are forms suitable for individuals, couples and groups with an equally broad range of physical intensity.

There are so many more forms of exercise, but the above are amongst those perhaps most suited to those of us who are overweight, unfit and not in the first flush of youth!

And how much exercise?

Well, the chart below gives you the recommended amounts for each age group, but more than that is fine!

Recommended physical activity levels

  • Children aged under 5 years should do 180 minutes daily

  • Young people (5-18 years) should do 60 minutes daily

  • Adults (19-64 years) should do 150 minutes every week

  • Older adults (65+ years) should do 150 minutes every week

What a 60kg person burns in 30 minutes:

  • running (6mph): 300 calories

  • tennis (singles): 240 calories

  • swimming (slow crawl): 240 calories

  • cycling (12-14mph): 240 calories

  • aerobic dancing: 195 calories

  • fast walking (4mph): 150 calories

Source: Department of Health, 2004

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About the Author

Margaret Pardoe

first trained and practiced as a State Registered Nurse and State Certified Midwife in the UK, and thereafter, as a Master Herbalist, Registered Iridologist and Accredited Journey Therapist. More recently she trained as a Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner with co-founder and creator of NLP, Richard Bandler. She has a lifetime of experience in both allopathic and alternative medicine and in mind/body healing techniques.

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