Senior Fitness Blog

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Fling Yourself at Life


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We all have our own story.

We all have things that we have overcome or challenges we want to overcome. You know what yours is. Whatever your story is… your body is part of that story. Your body is involved in your story. That story about your body is an emotional one. We even attach emotions to parts of our bodies like our heart. When some part of our body is not working the way we want…or not the way it used to be it can affect us.

It can be emotional.

When we were kids we moved our bodies how we wanted to without a thought. We flung ourselves at life, we threw ourselves into playing…could care less about protecting our back and we were not worried about what other people thought.

As the years pass we play less. That is a past tense. We think more about form. We are more concerned about the scale, and we have to think about when we do some sort of movement that can count as exercise. We care more about getting steps in, turning on our gagets and exercise becomes more of something we have to schedule and do…instead of something that just happens.

We blame this “have to” on jobs, kids, life, getting older or because it is too hard or intimidating. Fight your excuse(s). Instead of side stepping, give yourself the permission to care less about how and instead more about what you can do.

Your story that includes your body can include better movement. This movement does not have to be forced. Allow yourself to play. Allow yourself to dance. Allow yourself to turn off the societal norms of what you are supposed to do because of your age or gender. Allow yourself to learn how to do something new.  Discover ways to move that you look forward to doing often.

You will see that if you add more movement to your story your body and mind will reward you.

Fling yourself at life.

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Independence: A Vital Goal For Older Adults


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Whether it is a 50-year-old woman looking forward to retirement, 65-year-old man that wants to reduce the medication he is taking or a 72-year-old woman that wants to go hiking at the Rocky Mountains with her grandkids – they all want independence. Some may have higher levels of independence than others but they intersect at the same idea.

That idea is to do what they want to do when they want to do it.

The key ability is to live longer and live with better quality of life. This opportunity to stay independent for years does not come by being sedentary. This freedom does not come from being complacent. Attaining and maintaining independence comes from a constant vigilance for a better quality of life – and acting on it.

An important part of how to give yourself the opportunity at longer lasting independence is improving the way you move. This improvement is not done by being part of a gentle program that treats you and your body as though as you are frail, without potential and should not be challenged. Instead, you deserve a program that is introduced in a way that meets you where you are now…and challenges you so you can strengthen that foundation of independence.

Use that person or group class that you attend as your supplement (think of vitamins). That program is a part of what you are doing to improve your quality of life. Thus, this program is not the only thing you are doing – but an important part.

In other words, in addition to that program/fitness professional that works with you individually or the group:

  • Keep on playing.
  • Keep on hiking.
  • Keep on enjoying your dance class.
  • Keep on getting outside, getting your hands dirty and gardening.
  • Keep on planning exciting trips near and far…and physically prepare for them.
  • Keep on golfing.
  • Keep on being attentive to your health in other ways. (ie: eyesight and hearing checks, understanding medication side effects, managing chronic diseases)
  • Keep on learning and being creative.
  • Keep on going for walks with your partner, friends or neighbors.

You deserve a program that fits your needs, dreams and desires. Be vigilant about maintaining your independence and quality of life!

 

 

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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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Don’t Ignore The Elephant In The Room – Move Better Now To Keep Your Independence


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There are things that we can count on one hand that we fear as we age. These fears include disease, disability, and dementia. Exercise can reduce the chances of these, ease the symptoms or improve the overall quality of life and health while living with them. Thus, even if you are living with something like Parkinson’s you should still be exercising! Instead of resigning to the idea that all of these just come with age or that there is nothing you can do – I challenge you to take a firm grasp of what you can do and empower yourself.

Below I share some resources and articles that speak to each of these.

Chronic Disease

Dementia

Disability

I encourage you to do your research within and outside these resources. There are fitness professionals like me out there that are looking for people like you to improve your quality of life – whatever quality that means to you! Whatever you do, push yourself to move better so you can better do what you like to do and want to do, easier, better and with less discomfort.

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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!

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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.