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Adam Jolley

I climbed Kilimanjaro: Fighting fit and over 50

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People in the UK are living longer and spending more of their lives in good health than ever before. This makes mid-life the perfect time to get fit and take up a challenge.

Kilimanjaro

By 2030, people aged 50 and over will comprise almost a third of the workforce and almost half the adult population, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

And with life expectancy on the rise - a man aged 65 can now expect to live to 87 – Brits can expect to spend at least 80 per cent of their lives in good health.

Getting fit in your fifties

Jai Roberts-Brouwer, a fitness manager at Laguna Health & Spa in Cardiff, says a broad range of people take up exercise in their fifties.

He says: "A common catalyst can be an operation but also many people decide to get fit once they have grandchildren as they want to play an active part in their lives.”

Jai says age is no barrier to fitness.

The only barriers people usually have to exercise are mental ones.

Regular exercise

However, there are some changes to the body as you age that need to be taken into account.

Jai says: "As you get older your body becomes more susceptible to conditions such as osteoporosis [a disease of the bones that can make them more fragile].

"Regular exercise and non-impact sports can help keep your joints well lubricated.

"There’s also a great social side to exercise too, as shown by the number of people that stick around to chat long after the over 55s-exercise classes we run are over."

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Mike Vos, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, is 60 and still seeks out physical challenges.

Last year he ran the London Marathon and this year he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

At 5,895 metres – or 19,341 feet – above sea level, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest free-standing mountain.

The high altitude, low temperatures, occasional high winds and long days of walking make this a tough trek for anyone, no matter what their age.

Mike says: "I decided to climb Kilimanjaro to mark my 60th year and to raise money for Build Africa."

Build Africa is a charity working in rural Uganda and Kenya that helps young people escape poverty through education and other projects.

Extra incentives

Mike used to play a lot of rugby but says work and family commitments make it harder to find time for routine exercise now.

However, he still tries to keep fit when he can and challenges like the Kilimanjaro climb add an extra incentive to get active.

Mike says: "I did several long training walks of 15 to 20 miles in preparation for Kilimanjaro, some running and a week’s walking on the south-west coastal path in Cornwall.

"Trying to sleep in freezing temperatures and having to get going again for another three to four hour walk back to camp after coming down from the summit was the hardest part of the climb."

However, Mike says reaching the top of Kilimanjaro and seeing the sun rise was the most memorable part, which made it all worthwhile.

Mike adds: "A sense of ‘I may not get another chance’ kicks in a bit as you get older, so I try and do exciting things."

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