At the age of 66, Anne Kilpatrick, a resident at The Links at Waterford, played golf for the first time in her life.
She describes that initial game as horrible. ‘You have a stick and a stupid little ball, which is impossible to hit. It's very frustrating,’ she quips. But it was the beginning of a love affair that Anne now embraces every Monday, without fail.
‘My partner Graham has always played golf, and he was eager for me to join him. But it was only when we moved into the village and had an 18-hole golf course practically in our backyard that I decided to learn,’ she says. ‘There's a lot to think about, from how to hold the club to the position your feet are in, but I enjoy it more for the fun of it than for the competition. Playing 18 holes can take four to five hours, so it's a very physical game. There's a lot of walking, and you have to have decent strength in your arms to hit the ball. But at the end of the day, we have a good laugh. And the workout's a bonus.’
Anne’s regular golfing is fun and also fantastic for her health and wellbeing. A University of British Columbia study found that regular aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus. That’s the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Other benefits of getting your heart pumping include reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. As well as losing weight, lowering your blood pressure and reducing inflammation in the body.
The national health guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days - and preferably all days. This can include a range of exercises incorporating fitness, strength, balance and flexibility. But you don't have to be a seasoned athlete or run a marathon to reap the benefits. There are many types of physical activities, you just need to find the one that best suits you.
Enjoy gardening? Then you'll love this. Spending 45 minutes indulging your green thumb can burn over 200 calories while you're digging, weeding, planting, potting, hoeing or sowing. That's more than if you were to do 30 minutes of low-impact aerobics and probably twice as enjoyable! Even better, an article in the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening leads to a decrease in cortisol levels. This can increase positive moods and promote relief from acute stress. Not bad for an activity you can enjoy in your backyard.
Dancing's another great activity to try. While dancing usually means fun, social engagements and fancy footwork, it's also linked to many physical and mental benefits, including:
All while also building your self-esteem, confidence and social skills.
If dancing’s not your thing, studies confirm the many benefits of a simple daily walk.
In fact, a recent study by the University of Cambridge found that 11 minutes of brisk walking per day can be enough to significantly lower the risk of serious diseases. Boosting your health, improving your strength and increasing your longevity is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.
As for Anne, she’s continuing her pursuit of enjoyable exercise and making the most of the friends and facilities available in her village.
On top of her golf, Anne also cycles every Saturday with The Links at Waterford cycle group. ‘We ride to the upper gully. It's about 16 kilometres there and back. And we have a coffee and a laugh at the top,’ she says.
For extra activity, Anne does Pilates in the village on Tuesday afternoons. She describes herself as someone who's always been active, but like many, the fitness aspect comes second to the joy of connecting with friends. She loves burning calories while simultaneously enjoying the conversation.
‘For years, a friend had told me I had to try Pilates, though it's something I didn't start until I moved to The Links at Waterford. It's very gentle exercise, but it's amazing how it builds your core. You learn to walk better, you improve your posture, you hold your shoulders back,’ says Anne. ‘So many of us here want to stay young. I turned 69 in January, but I easily still feel 35. And the exercise definitely helps. It may only be light stuff, but it all works, and it makes you feel good.’
Learn more about The Links at Waterford, VIC.
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