Monday, June 22, 2009

Exercise and Age

As I may have mentioned in past posts, I am an avid exerciser and over the last 13 years or so, I have maintained some sort of cardio and weight training routine. Just like most people some periods were a little more off than on, but I always come back to it. I bring this up only to make the point that I am in okay shape. Oh, and by the way, I recently turned 40.

On Thursday I was in my regular Kick-Punch cardio kickboxing class. I was still feeling sore from Monday's weight training and suffering from a sore foot that seems to be a chronic problem at this point. It was hard to motivate (I was feeling old) and I mentioned it to one of my classmates who just happens to be 5 - 10 years older than me. At that point she said the greatest thing which has stuck with me ever since. "We just work harder. As you get older, it is like running up hill. You have to work harder to maintain the pace." The best part is that she said it with a smile on her face and I completely understood where she was coming from. We are strong and we have the ability to work harder mentally and physically. Thinking about this has motivated me to push forward.

So what is my point? It is so important to maintain OR improve as we get older. Even if you don't exercise today, you can still reap the benefits and you will. Here is an excerpt from a great article I found regarding staying active at any age.

Staying Active: Time's Natural Impact

With each passing decade, our bodies lose more muscle mass and bone density, and, in turn, strength and flexibility. Fortunately, this process can be reversed at any stage in your life by revving up your physical activity. "You're never too old to exercise," says Dr. Rosanne Leipzig, professor and vice-chair of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City. "There are clinical trials, even in nursing home patients over age 90, showing that you can improve your health and well-being by starting to exercise at any age."

Most people in good health don't need their doctor's okay to start a moderate exercise program, such as daily walking. Under certain circumstances, however, a visit to the doctor's office is in order. "If you're past age 60 and have a serious chronic disease, let your doctor know before you begin exercising," says Dr. Church. "And if you're planning anything more rigorous than walking — say, biking, rowing, or swimming — certainly check with your doctor first."

Staying Active: The Exercise Rx

For overall health and well-being, it's important to incorporate four types of exercise into your routine:

Aerobic, or cardiovascular, activities, to make the heart and lungs work harder. Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day engaging in activities like biking, walking briskly, dancing, swimming, or taking a water aerobics class. You can also raise your heart rate simply doing chores around the house: vacuuming, gardening, raking leaves, or washing the car.

Strengthening exercises, to build bone density and strengthen muscles used for daily activities, such as climbing stairs. Aim to do strengthening exercises two to three times a week, using dumbbells, resistance bands, weight machines, or foam weights in a pool. To learn correct form and prevent injury, take a class at a gym, YMCA, or senior center.

Stretching, to increase flexibility and allow easier movement. Stretch on your own for 10 minutes a day, or sign up for a stretching class. Yoga and Pilates also incorporate many stretching techniques.

Balance exercises, to reduce the risk of falling. Tai chi and yoga can improve your equilibrium. Or practice standing on one foot, then the other — if possible, without holding onto a support.

So no matter what your age or your physical ability, I hope you will take the opportunity to move today. It's never too late!

- Shannan

1 comment:

Hanlie said...

I truly believe that health is not possible without physical activity of some sort. I'm always amazed at the rapid strides forward I can accomplish when I exercise, not only in terms of weight loss, but in health and vitality.

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