Len Goodman’s 5 Favourite Tips To Stay Active
Having made his name as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, Len Goodman knows the importance of staying active as you get older.
Osteoarthritis impacts more than 8.75 million people in the UK and is most common in those over the age of 60.
Despite two serious operations and arthritis, Len still finds a way to keep moving. We caught up with Len to get some of his tips and advice.
As you get older and you’ve worked hard all your life, it’s easy to get to a point and think, “I’ve earned a bit of a break”. So you can end up thinking, “I’ll just sit here and watch the television”. The key is to find something that gets you up off the sofa.
I discovered golf in my early 20s. I’d never played before and one day I went to the local golf club and said, “I want to learn how to play golf”. And the professional lent me some clubs and gave me 6 lessons for the princely sum of £20. So you can imagine how long ago it was. The first shot I took I missed the ball completely. I thought to myself, “the ball’s just cranky, I need to motivate him to move.”
And that’s been my motivation ever since, to hit that ball, make him happy and help him get home to the hole! I must say, for me golf has been the most wonderful way to stay active. You do a lot of walking, and you get out and you get moving. I love that I’m in my late 70s and still able to play, even when I get older I hope to still play, if that means using a cart to get around the course, so be it - at least I’ll be getting out of the house!
Find Something You Enjoy
I’ve always tried to find ways to be active and finding something you enjoy doing can be all the reason to get up and do it. That became harder during lockdown. Suddenly the golf course was shut!
So my wife started going for walks and made me go with her. At first I didn’t want to but she knows better than me so I did as I was told. And you know what? I loved it. Before I was always thinking, “why walk somewhere when you can just jump in the car?” - but with lockdown there was nowhere to go.
My wife and I would go out and discover this whole world within a few miles of our house. Lovely little streams and pathways. I just love it now, it’s a great way to get moving and unwind the mind. We have a chit chat and the other week we went down a little country lane and there was a whole field of lavender. It was splendid.
The Little Things Can Make A Big Difference
Doing something you might be putting off or resisting can have huge benefits on you mentally and physically.
The other day I went out to my garage and I took everything out, swept it, did a bit of a sort through and then put it all back in. I really didn’t want to do it but afterwards I felt great. I took a photo of it. A lot of things in life that you do, especially as you get older, you realise you feel better for doing them.
Being honest, it's so easy to just sit on your bum and do nothing. But I feel good about myself when I've made the effort to do things.
Another thing I discovered during lockdown was the joy of gardening. Gardening is the most lovely thing to do. It's really rewarding. I love to bring lots of colour to the garden, I like it garish and bright. You’d be surprised at how much of a workout doing the gardening can be. Taking pleasure in the little things you might otherwise overlook can result in huge benefits to you in any number of ways, including keeping active without really being aware of it.
Do It Your Way
As you get older you realise you can do things the way you want to do them. I’ve learned how great swimming is for me. But I’m not the most natural swimmer, unlike my wife who is a fish in the water. The pool we go to is quite long, so I do a length of breaststroke and then I walk back to the start.
It might sound like not really swimming but I’m walking in the water, I make sure to really pick-up my knees. The water resistance really makes it great exercise and it allows me to recover a little bit before I go again.
You shouldn’t feel pressured to do things the way other people are. My way of swimming works for me, so my advice is, find something that works for you and adapt it to what you find most comfortable. There is no wrong way of staying active!
Be Young At Heart
I’ve realised as I get older that happiness is often something you feel in retrospect. Often we take it for granted in the moment. The other day we had our grandchildren over and for two or three hours of them running around the garden I had a huge smile on my face.
Children keep you young at heart, you forget yourself around them because they have so much energy and thirst for life. It’s infectious. And it makes me realise that I still think of myself as 26 years old at heart. Sure, my body likes to remind me I’m not, but I still feel young at heart.
Life is a long walk. Sometimes you stop and look back at where you’ve been and more often than not you see the good times. Yes, there are some bad things there but you realise those things make you appreciate the good times all the more.
So, be happy, look back on your life with all you’ve done and keep walking - you never know where it might lead!