“Exercise is the miracle cure we have all been waiting for” according to the NHS. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of chronic diseases, stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity becomes even more important as we get older, improving self-esteem, energy, mood and sleep quality. Recent research has shown that having an exercise companion means you are more likely to exercise and that group fitness classes have benefits that go beyond weight loss and muscle gain. Here are a few popular classes to get you started.
Over 5000 years old, yoga is a popular form of exercise which focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing. Yoga increases joint flexibility, reducing muscle soreness, stiffness, and achiness and increases muscular strength. In turn, this improves balance and reduces the risk of falls as you get older. Yoga can also be effective in preventing or slowing bone density loss. Moreover, yoga has great benefits for the mind and relieves stress and the symptoms of depression.
Aquafit is a high energy aerobics class which takes place in the shallow end of a swimming pool. The movements are the same as in a normal aerobics class but with added benefits due to working out in water. Aquafit is a low impact activity where water supports your body putting less strength on joints and muscles. There is also less strain on the heart by being in the water which in turn moves blood around the body, improving cardio fitness. It builds muscular strength due to the added push of the water and the impact of gravity is reduced by the water allowing a greater range of motion and improving balance.
Zumba is a relative newcomer to the fitness class circuit, being created in Columbia in 1990. Zumba combines Latin music with moves from Latin dances such as salsa, mambo, merengue, and samba. Zumba has been described as a workout in disguise as the dance moves mask an intense cardio workout with free flowing movements. It is a great way to alleviate stress, reduce symptoms of depression and improve self confidence. Zumba also improves strength, posture and flexibility as well as benefiting coordination and balance.
These group classes all have one common advantage; they offer the social and motivational benefits of exercising with like-minded people. Exercising in a group reduces stress and increases quality of life at the same time as improving fitness levels.
Written by Jane Sandwood