For years both experts and lay-people believed that fractures, bone and muscle loss, osteoarthritis and weakness, typically observed in seniors, were simply the result of aging.
However, with the help of research, this belief is changing.
Studies of senior athletes and “super-agers” show, when there is focus on fitness and nutrition the typical age-related conditions move to the background. Additionally, more active seniors seem to enjoy a significant boost in health and wellness through their golden years.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, should it?
All throughout life, we benefit from physical activity. Regular exercise benefits bone density, ligament, and tendon function; it builds lean muscle mass and sustains cartilage health.
So why would it be any different when we’re getting older?
While you can’t turn back the hands of time, there is a lot you can do to age better and with more success.
As we age, eventually we will experience some decline in function. Most of us first notice that we become less flexible. A decrease in flexibility also means that our balance won’t be as good as it once was.
When you get older and don’t exercise regularly, you’ll experience a more rapid decline in muscle mass; your ligaments and tendons lose elasticity, and your bones become weaker.
Typically all of the above leads to compromised flexibility and balance. That’s why it’s so important to keep exercising and to stay active.
The name of the game is “Use it or Lose it!” It’s that simple.
Let me share a BBC video clip with you, featuring Irene Obera. Without a doubt, she is in great shape; probably better than many younger than herself.
If she can do it, so can you and I!
So, are you inspired to get back in shape?
Great… As you’re finding the best exercises for yourself, here are two types you want to include.
Balance And Resistance Training
Safety is an important consideration, particularly as we’re getting older. When it comes to exercising or working out, your objective is to move better with fewer restrictions and have more confidence. This means you need to include exercises with this goal in mind.
A good approach is to work on moves that are similar to daily life, but, add an element of balance to them. You need to do activities every day, such as tie your shoes, put your pants on, place cans in a cupboard overhead and reach down to pick up your grandchild. Think about that when working out, but do moves on one foot.
Here is an example:
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and lift your right foot off the floor.
- Bend forward at the hips and bend your left knee slightly as you lower the weight toward your left foot.
- Pick it up as you stand back up to a straightened position and press the weight overhead until your arm is fully extended.
- Repeat the entire drill for a series of reps and switch sides.
You just worked a high percentage of muscle while also targeting your balance. !
Another thing you could do is simply standing on one foot several times a day while doing normal activities like brushing your teeth, cooking and talking on the phone. This alone will improve your balance, but when you add load, it will work twofold because of the added resistance.
Flexibility is another ballgame altogether. The balance training helps to a certain degree, but you’ll be better off working directly on flexibility.
And that isn’t that complicated. Ideally, you’ll do a combination of dynamic and static stretches.
Dynamic stretches are performed in motion. They will serve you well before weight training workouts because they get your connective tissue in tune with movement patterns.
Include stretches like
- arm circles
- arm crossovers
- spinal rotations
- alternating toe touches
- leg swings and
- knee bends
Static stretches are performed by moving a limb to an endpoint range of motion and holding it there for an extended period. These stretches are better left for the end of a weight training workout.
An example would be a quad stretch where you grab your ankle and pull your heel up toward your butt as far as you can and hold. Aim for at least 20 seconds with each stretch, but the longer, the better.
Alternatively, you could sign up for a Yoga class or buy a Yoga DVD and start working out at home. When doing Yoga, you can expect to get all of your major muscles stretched well.
The most important factor with flexibility and balance training is never to do anything that is going to cause you pain or discomfort. Only work to your threshold of limitations, and you will not go wrong.
In summary, whatever exercise you decide to do doesn’t matter; you could even start by walking just a few minutes each day. The important thing is to get started and to keep moving.
So, pull out your sneakers and let’s get going!
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