older adult fitness

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How Fit Can You Be Over 50?


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This question may come to mind when fitness and healthcare professionals strongly encourage various forms of exercise. How much “in shape” or “fit” do I need to be?  Many articles and studies highlight the numerous physical, neurological and cellular benefits to exercise.

The best answer is to turn the question back on you…how fit do you need to be to carry out the physical demands of your everyday life? What can that entail?

  • Sitting down.
  • Getting up.
  • Stepping to the side and reaching for something.
  • Reaching up to get something.
  • Carrying heavy items on one side while walking.
  • Turning to see what is around you.
  • Walking up stairs or on uneven ground.
  • Conditioned enough not to be winded at the top of the stairs.
  • Clothing and bathing yourself.

The list goes on…

This physical ability to carry out everyday tasks is also called your functional capacity.

Another way of phrasing this is – what do you enjoy doing and what do you need to do physically to be able to do it? Vacations? Visiting and playing with grandkids? Hiking trips? Running marathons? Enjoying the sites at a national park? Everything that brings you joy incorporates some sort of movement, regardless if that just means walking across the floor to open the door for a family member.

To answer the question one way: You should be as fit as your life demands.

This idea means you should not structure your life around your bodies limitations especially if they include your functional capacity. Instead, you should practice, exercise, and “train” to be able to do what you want to do easier and with less thought about how your body is moving.

Another way to answer the question is: Be as fit as you can possibly be.

Striving to be fit is a lifelong journey. As we age we may have to adapt and change the ways that we do exercise, but that does not mean we stop challenging ourselves. The more you move better every day you are rewarded with independence, confidence, and peace of mind that you don’t let your age determine what you can or cannot do.

To be clear, being “fit” is more than strength (although it is important, as especially leg strength is associated with morality).

It is also the power to move quickly if necessary.

It is also the agility to be able to walk over and around objects.

It is also the balance to be able to walk, bend, carry things and do things simultaneously.

It is also the mobility and flexibility to move your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, neck, and shoulders.

It is also the ability to be able to get to the ground and stand back up.

 

You CAN be fit over 50. You deserve to live the life you want to live!

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Hack Your Mindset About Exercise: Six tips for the 40 and up crowd.


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If you are over 40, you may get some reminders from your doctor or friends and family that have had health problems about being more attentive to your health. Perhaps you believe that you won’t have health problems, or that you will deal with it if the time comes… Or you may believe that things just stop working as well as they used to as you get older. This and other ways of thinking need to be hacked. Below are six tips on how to hack that mindset.

  1. Think about a time when you were the most physically active. What was the activity that you enjoyed doing? Everyone has something, it does not necessarily mean that you played organized sports. How can you tap into that feeling of excitement and motivation? Find a gym, studio or adult intermural league to join. Or if it is other endeavors find a hiking club or a community garden that you can not only get you moving but stimulate your mind.

 

  1. You don’t have to wear gym clothes to move better in life. If the gym is too much for you and the great outdoors is your mecca then go for what makes you happy. Make sure you have some suitable footwear for the terrain that you will be hiking on. If you enjoy company then make it a time to catch up with friends while exploring the trails.

 

  1. If you are having health problems, thinking that exercise won’t really help much is the wrong attitude. The benefits of increased blood circulation, maintaining muscle tone and pushing your cardiovascular limits not only contribute to positive effects in your body but also you mind. If anything, a sense of accomplishment that you stuck to your schedule of whatever you enjoy doing while being physically active is important.

 

  1. Contemplating something more physical than a walk does not have to be a mind over matter battle. Investing in your health by seeking out qualified allies can help dipping your foot back in the water easier. If you suffer from chronic injury then talk to your doctor or look to a physical therapist or corrective exercise specialist. If the doctor gives you a green light to exercise and that is not enough then find a personal trainer. Any of these allies are a supplement to what you do. You will see them a few hours out of the week. Use that as your motivation to start changing the other hours of the day that you spend at work or retired.

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  1. Stop holding yourself back from being physically active because of discomfort or you are always tired. Use that opportunity to improve your health so you can do what you want and like to do. Perhaps there is a trip you have always imagined would be so much fun. Regardless how close or far the location is use that as your goal. Speak with your doctor about any chronic conditions and look at your options. Sometimes water aerobics is a great low impact way to improve things like cardiovascular health or strength and it is low impact at the same time. There are often many services that are inexpensive if not free for older adults. Check with your county government or agency.

 

  1. Doubting your physical capabilities leads to a path of a sedentary lifestyle that is riddled with a lack of mobility, strength and balance. Instead of thinking of exercise as something you cannot do – think of it as an opportunity to learn. Why learn? This is a chance to learn about your body and how it adapts and changes. As you introduce the right kind and right amount of exercise you will see that you can regain important physical functions. Also, the confidence level will also improve especially when it comes to what you can more easily do with less thought about your body.

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Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 2


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.

Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

2. It is too late to exercise or You’re too old for that

This myth seems to be based on a limited and subjective definition of “exercise.” Exercise does not have to happen in a big box gym, nor do you necessarily have to be wearing fancy exercise clothes. (You don’t have to wear leg warmers, tights and a headband unless that’s what motivates you!)

Consider all the activities that can contribute to exercise and fitness. For example, building and tending to a garden incorporates squatting, lunging, digging, pulling, dragging, pushing, core strength, carrying objects, and more. If you don’t have the space (or interest) to be a neighborhood farmer, then going for hikes, joining a rec league, pilates, enjoying the social, mental and physical benefits of Tai Chi, or trying out some group exercise classes at a gym/pool are all great ideas.

If you have a favorite park or enjoy walking in your neighborhood? Start there! Finally, if you do want a gym, shop around and find one that you are comfortable at. Independent gyms vary greatly. Find one that you’ll enjoy and will continue going to rather than paying for a membership that you are not using.

Find the exercise that fits your preference and lifestyle. Do something that YOU enjoy doing!

Blog

Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 1


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.

Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

  1. You will hurt yourself

This myth implies that mature adults and seniors are too frail and weak to exercise and moving will just lead to injury.

That is a just plain wrong. Yes, anyone starting a new exercise program should start off slow and set a foundation based on their current fitness level. Yes, consulting your doctor, getting your eyesight checked, being aware of the effects of medicines, etc. are important considerations. Lastly, yes, it is important to recognize any physical restrictions based on past injuries or current mobility challenges. These are factors to be considered at any age when changing lifestyle or starting a new fitness program.

The key is to recognize these factors and develop exercise options based on this awareness. For example, if walking places too much strain on joints, Nordic walking (i.e. with walking/hiking poles) is an excellent option. These poles actually facilitate an increase in oxygen consumption and energy expenditure by engaging the upper body instead of just the legs.

Contrary to this myth, improved fitness levels actually reduce the chance of injury. People with reduced mobility, tend to modify their movement based on fear or discomfort. Imagine walking on a narrow bridge over a swamp of alligators. How are you walking? Probably with shuffling steps in a hunched position. In this position you have a narrow base of support, walking is difficult and uncomfortable, and catching yourself if you trip will be difficult. Now, imagine a beautiful walk on the beach. You are relaxed with a more comfortable and confident gait. With a better range of motion, posture, and gait there is less of chance of injury or falls. Gait and balance issues are a major cause of injury in older adults.

One of the key contributing factors to reducing falls is exercise. Everyday life takes mobility, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility and power. Testing and training those functions in a proper fashion will lead to more confidence and ability to move throughout life with more ease.