As you move through a new stage of your life, you may ponder your fitness level. With all the messages from the media and health care providers about increasing activity levels, it’s on a lot of people’s minds.
When considering a fitness routine, it’s important to keep in mind that your body is not the same as it was 20 years ago. The same kinds of goals are not necessarily relevant during this season of your life. And it’s not fair to yourself to expect to have the same physique or fitness level as you had in the past; however, there are still opportunities to maximize your fitness level and realize the benefits of exercise.
When determining your fitness goals, consider these elements:
Strength training. Bone density and lean muscle tissue decrease at a consistent rate throughout our lives. Using resistance – things like dumbbells or even your own body weight – helps maintain this bone density and lean muscle tissue. When you add resistance, you allow for muscle adaptations which result in maintaining or increasing your strength. To do this, a certain amount of stress needs to be placed on your muscles (similar to life and how challenges make us more resilient). Another great benefit of strength training: it helps you maintain function later on in life. Being able to gracefully get up from a chair or having the strength to lift heavy boxes are things you may take for granted today, but in later years having the strength to do these functional tasks will help you maintain a great quality of life. You can start strength training the easy way: add some partial squats, kneeling pushups and kneeling planks to your routine a couple of times a week. As you progress, so can the resistance of your strength training program.
Balance and agility. Icy sidewalks or grandchildren running by at full speed require the ability to maintain balance and be light-footed. Even if it has been years since you were on the basketball court or dancing in high heels, it’s never too late to bolster this area of fitness. While doing dishes or waiting for a photocopy, stand on one foot. To stay nimble try things like shuffling side to side in front of the television during commercial breaks.
Warm up and cool down. Warming up prevents injuries during your workout. Start with some light cardio for 5-10 minutes to increase your body temperature and circulation. Stretching after a workout helps you maintain your range of motion as well as reduce post-workout aches and pains. A five-minute investment after your workout will pay big dividends.
Find creative ways to fit in in. One of the benefits of being over 50 can include having the resources to make things easier by hiring cleaning staff, outsourcing laundry and having a vehicle to get around. This isn’t always best for our fitness. With the modern luxuries available comes less opportunities to exert ourselves. Activities like gardening, walking up stairs and even pushing a heavy grocery cart can provide “real life” exercise and it adds up. Another challenge is a busy schedule. This is where finding pockets of time can come in handy. Setting 10 minutes aside in the morning for stretching and core work is an easy way to add in activity. Walking to the store for milk instead of driving is another example. If you think about your day, you may find little 10 minute pockets of time to add in activity.
aging Through life we accumulate injuries and conditions that may prevent us from many traditional forms of exercise. If you have access to a physiotherapist, learn what activities would be best for you. For example, walking after dinner is a great low impact option and you control the intensity.
May you be healthy, happy and strong for a long time to come.
Your Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) can help you improve your physical and mental health through fitness at any age. Please call 1.866.833.7690 or visit workhealthlife.com to get started.
By Danielle Greenidge. Danielle’s foray in the fitness industry came on the heels of a significant weight loss. Overwhelmed with the information available during this journey, she studied fitness and nutrition, becoming certified as a personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach. She has introduced many people to fitness and has led lifestyle classes, blending coaching with her passion for joyful movement to help clients design fitness and nutrition plan that meets their goals.