Currently adults aged 55 and over are the largest demographic utilizing fitness facilities. One reason is that it’s also the fastest growing segment of our population. But also, us older folks are discovering the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, like better quality of life as we age, not to mention independence.
I’ve watched parents and grandparents lose their independence through infirmity of various types. If changing my habits will keep from that for one more day, I’m all over it.
There are various ways which the years affect our bodies and minds and many of them can be helped (I said helped, not cured) through activity.
Beginning as early as your late 30s, muscle mass and strength can start to decline. These numbers can reach up to 50% by your 70s. The clinical term is Sarcopenia and it’s considered one of the leading causes of frailty in older adults. Without getting too deep into it, you lose muscle, the muscle you have gets softer, and your body holds onto more fat. Resistance training and diet are the best ways to maintain muscle through your later years. Resistance training has been shown to enhance physical function in older adults. What does that mean? Improved mobility. Standing up from a chair, climbing stairs, what I like to call “functional fitness”. And no, I don’t think that a testosterone booster does the same damn thing. I resent Frank Thomas, who, btw, looks the same in both his “before” & “after” shots in those Nugenix or whatever they are commercials, telling me that “she’ll like it too” and winking at me. No Frank, a tablet ain’t gonna do it all by itself. And you might want to kick up your cardio and push yourself away from the table , while we’re on the subject.
Osteoporosis is defined as when the body loses too much bone or does not produce enough bone, or a little of both. Bones become more porous, more fragile and more prone to breakage. On average 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise, like resistance training is more effective than cardiovascular exercise when it comes to maintaining bone density. Also increasing your intake of calcium, magnesium & vitamin D through diet or supplementation can give your body the building blocks it needs to create stronger bones. But if you start resistance training you have to be careful what kind. If you’re already in a state of reduced bone density (osteopenia), then ballistic movement is a definite NO.
Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of men & women over the age of 65 in the U.S. Some of the most common types include coronary artery disease, which is narrowing of the arteries in the heart, heart attack and stroke. Some contributing factors to cardiovascular disease include hypertension, diabetes, smoking, obesity, physical activity and poor nutrition. THIS is where cardiovascular conditioning comes in. regular cardio training helps to lower the heart rate, blood pressure, increasing good cholesterol (HDL), reducing triglycerides and decreasing body weight. AND, adding resistance training to your cardio tends to produce larger increases in cardio fitness. But……
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
It’s called “perceived exertion”. What it means is “how do YOU think you feel?” Do not overdo it. If you are making changes in your activity level, start slower than you think you should. Soreness the day or 2 after, especially when you are trying something new, is alright. That’s your body saying “What??” But there is soreness and there is SORENESS. That second one is a lot more like pain. That’s a signal that you’re doing too much too soon. That’s when you start thinking “I hate this”, “I don’t want to do this anymore”, “Bob is full of crap”.
I’m not full of crap, at least not about this.
I like my life. I like being able to fully participate in all aspects of it. And I think that now, in my late 50’s, when I stop doing these things that a lot of that will go away.