April 21, 2024

Fitness at Every Age by Craig Thomas

Recent research has shown age expectancy for men and women is getting longer and will continue to grow with each generation. As of 2011, the golden years are averaging 20% of an average person’s life or roughly 13 years. In light of that, “older” is not synonymous with incapacitated—nor does it necessarily mean to slow down.

For those fitness enthusiasts who find the inside of a gym familiar, a full-body workout that spans 60 minutes 3 times per week is an great option. However, 4 -5 days per week of 40-45 minutes can also be beneficial. For those folks accustomed to weights, a barometer in which 8-12 repetitions are achieved and the final rep is highly challenging is a good measuring stick.

For those who do not have access to a gym or just prefer the great outdoors, participating in active hobbies that are enjoyable will result in sustainable exercise. Hiking, walking and biking to more intense exercises such as skiing and tennis are fantastic full body aerobic activities. Choose exercises that are multi-planar and movement-based to gain the most varied benefits. Multi-planar means moving our body in all directions, such as tennis. Movement-based, translates to activities that include full body (arms, legs and core) movement, for example hiking. Water activities are also excellent examples of  multi-planar and movement-based exercise. In addition, the water acts as natural resistance through low-impact and joint friendly movements (for those suffering from osteoporosis or other arthritis conditions.)

If you’re new to the world of exercise, consider the principle of “just moving.” Walking is a wonderful workout that leads to increases in cardiovascular health and muscle endurance, as well as balance and agility improvements. Lack of blood flow is associated with stagnation and Eastern opinion believes that many body imbalances and diseases stem from stationary lifestyles. According to statistics over the past 10 years, heart disease is the number one culprit for deaths in those over the age of 65 in the U.S. Exercise and physical fitness has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve circulation and improve cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis).

Of course, the first action every new fitness protégée should take—regardless of age—is to consult with his/her doctor and request medical clearance to begin an exercise regime. Additionally, during your visit ask your doctor to outline any physical contraindications (movements that would be detrimental to your body if you did them) based on your current condition and past family health history.

By Craig Thomas, ACSM.


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