It’s no secret that regular group exercise has major physical and mental health benefits. But it’s not just a young person’s game – recent research has shown that when it comes to getting fit and improving your health, it’s never too late to start.

Older people in a group exercise class

An 18-year-long study of 24,502 adults aged between 39 and 79 has shown that exercise taken in later life is beneficial for the health of your heart. The findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. They revealed that in people over 65, the risk of heart attack and stroke was significantly reduced if they were physically active compared to those who did no physical activity at all.

There were three age groups included in the study: 55 and younger; 55 to 65 years; and over 65 years of age. The participants within each group were further subdivided into three physical activity categories: moderately inactive; moderately active; and active people. The researchers then monitored whether the participants had a stroke or heart attack during the study.

It was found that even the participants in the moderately inactive group had a 14% reduced risk of cardiovascular events compared to those who were completely inactive – suggesting that even small amounts of exercise are beneficial to the health of the heart.

As Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, puts it: “This research adds to our understanding of the relationship between physical activity and heart disease in older age. If you’re more physically active, you give yourself the best chance of a heart-healthy retirement. It’s never too late to get active and a little physical activity is better than none.”

Regular Exercise Keeps the Mind Sharp

Regular exercise reduces fat, stress and cholesterol, improves body functions, prevents diabetes, and boosts self-confidence. And this is all true for people at any age of life. Yet, despite these well-known facts, Public Health England announced last year that there has been a 20% drop in exercise levels since the 1960s.

The study found that 41% of people aged between 40 and 60 aren’t even managing a brisk ten-minute walk once a month. What’s more, a further study by DW Fitness First revealed that 53% of people over the age of 45 haven’t participated in any form of sporting activity for more than 20 years.

But the health benefits of regular physical activity are huge. On top of reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that thinking and memory are both improved for people over the age of 50 when the heart and muscles are exercised on a regular basis, meaning that frequent physical activity is one of the best ways of keeping the mind sharp.

What’s more, regular exercise also helps with weight loss, and has been shown to boost mood and relieve anxiety – indeed, those that exercise three times a week can reduce the risk of depression by up to 20%.

And the great news is that, today, there are so many exercise options and opportunities for people of all ages and abilities that it’s never been easier to get started.

Group Exercise for All Ages

As the national governing body for group exercise, EMD UK is committed to helping people of all ages and abilities achieve a healthier lifestyle and become more active on a regular basis.

Group exercise is one of the most effective ways to get fit, sustain a healthy lifestyle, and have great fun while you’re doing so. And you needn’t worry that group exercise classes are reserved for the young and nimble – there are many, many opportunities to join in with low impact group exercise sessions up and down the country, that are ideally suited to people of all ages and experience levels.


Take the brand new dance fitness class FunkFit, for instance. If you love those Motown, funk, soul and disco classes, then FunkFit will most definitely be for you. Classes are designed to be fun and inclusive for groovers of all ages – the oldest FunkFitter is 84 years old! And since there are no choreographies to learn, it’s simply a case of turning up, following the instructor at the front, singing along, and moving your body to the music.

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Taking a very different approach to exercise, Medau is a stand-alone form of exercise with teaching principles that can be applied to many forms of physical fitness regimes, delivering a challenging and enjoyable workout without being exhausting. Medau works in rhythm with the body and its teachers work in harmony with the participants. With no set routines, it offers unlimited class opportunities that are safe, deliver results and can be taught to any age or ability.

Seated SOSA Dance Fitness

Even those who are worried about being on their feet for extended periods of time needn’t be excluded from group exercise. EMD UK Member Organisation SOSA Dance Fitness has recently created its Seated SOSA class, specifically designed to be fully-inclusive so that absolutely everyone can take part.

An authentic international dance fitness programme, Seated SOSA Dance Fitness uses routines that are adaptable for all abilities and health conditions, and are particularly suited to older adults who have perhaps not participated in physical activity for a long time.

Every routine is broken down into easy-to-learn sections, which can all be delivered at different speed and intensity, creating a safe and effective workout that everybody can enjoy.

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It’s Never Too Late to Start Group Exercise!

It really doesn’t matter if you’ve never participated in group exercise before, for it’s never too late to start. And indeed, if you find yourself in a position where you’ve been inactive for ten, twenty, thirty years or even longer, there’s never been a better time for you dust off your dancing shoes and find a group exercise class near you that you can join today.

It’s an unavoidable truth that the older we get, the more health problems we are likely to face. But, as ever, prevention is better than cure, and participating in some low-impact high-pleasure group exercise activities is one sure way you can start enjoying a new lease of life.

If you need help finding a group exercise class near you that will cater for your particular fitness goals or needs, you can use the Find a Class function on our website, or simply get in touch with EMD UK today.