Whether we like to admit it or not, aging is a part of life we all have to face. Did you know the leading cause for injury deaths in people 65 and older is falls? Did you also know that the number one reason to seek medical care in the U.S. is musculoskeletal injuries? That’s pretty strong stuff. (No pun intended.) The fact is that as we age we get weaker…unless you do something about it. So how do you keep your youthfulness and ward off injury and death? I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to do.
There are four components of health that need to be addressed in order to slow the aging process. They are cardiovascular training, resistance training, or weightlifting, flexibility and nutrition. Nutrition is in and of itself a huge beast so we won’t talk about that specifically. But do know it is an important piece to the puzzle.
By your 40th birthday, you’ve probably begun to become vulnerable to injury. There are usually weak areas with an individual, whether its balance, strength, flexibility, endurance or even posture. These need to be focused on and improved upon individually.
The main concern when undertaking an exercise program at any age is customization. Everyone is different. And that means everyone’s exercise program should be different. Each area, strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and posture must be assessed and then properly prescribed based on that assessment.
When people begin exercising they usually start with cardiovascular training. Everyone can walk around their block. There are really no barriers for someone to start. But just a walk around the block or walking laps at the mall won’t cut it. Endurance training should be done three days out of the week for 30 – 45 minutes. And keep this in mind; there are two types of endurance training. Weight bearing and non-weight bearing. Walking and jogging are weight bearing and cycling and swimming are non-weight bearing. Some form of weight bearing endurance training should be incorporated into the program.
Weight training is one that not everyone is familiar with. Some are even afraid of it. Especially older adults. But let me put a few things to rest right up front. You will not get bulky. Yes, you can hurt yourself if done incorrectly. Please seek out a professional. And yes, weight training has to be a part of your program. Because as we age it is the most crucial part of your program!
So let’s keep it simple. Three days a week for 30 – 45 minutes. Are you seeing a pattern with the commitment? When strength training, you want to focus on the major muscle groups and any areas that may be weak. Keep the muscles around the knee, hamstrings and quadriceps strong. As well as the core muscles, which include the abs and back.
The last part of a complete exercise program is flexibility. This is often overlooked for a variety of reasons. But it is so important. Especially since many jobs today have turned into sitting in your chair staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day. Flexibility will help keep your muscles loose, prevent stiffness, and maintain joint mobility. It helps you keep that youthful feeling and defy the aging process. Do a minimum of three days a week for 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid to stretch everyday. Even morning and night. You can over train when it comes to strength and endurance training, but it is near impossible to stretch too much. When stretching, keep the movements slow and controlled. Do not bounce or jolt the limbs. That is a ballistic style of stretching and can be dangerous. We want to prevent injury, not get injured.
There you have it; endurance, strength, and flexibility training. If you incorporate these into your health and fitness program you will ward off any injury as you begin the aging process. You’ll keep that youthful body and youthful energy. You’ll friends will be asking, ‘What is your secret?’