By: Pearl Maalouf BS, FMSC, CPT, CF-L1
In most of the world it is a common notion that the gym is mainly reserved for the younger crowd. They want to look nice so they can attract someone to date/marry or they’ve got the energy/time (no kids!) to spend an hour or more in the gym. But with the exception of water aerobics classes, you don’t see a lot of “elderly” people working out. It’s interesting because those are the people that NEED to workout and will find the most life altering benefits from it!
After you reach 40 your body starts changing – you may even realize that before you reach 40 – from the inside and outside. Your metabolism is slower, you have more aches and pains, lower energy levels, or your health may start showing signs of declining. Even if you’ve never seen the inside of a gym it’s not too late to make a difference in your health and longevity! If you are entering your 40’s or 50’s and you’ve worked out regularly you should also start thinking about changing the way you workout.
You want to make sure that those aches, pains, and joint stiffness are kept to a minimum. Keeping your muscles loose and pliable- like a new rubber band- will keep you from tearing anything. If you don’t work on your flexibility your muscles will become hard and stiff, making it easier to pull or tear a muscle. Try taking a yoga class, foam rolling, and definitely doing a dynamic warm up before starting any workouts or stretching program.
Build Some Muscle
Muscles aren’t just for showing off like an oiled up man flexing at the beach! You can build some muscle without getting bulky. As you get older you start to loose muscle mass, up to 45% by the time you reach age 80! So offsetting this loss by doing some weighted exercises will help keep you independent and strong instead of wasting away on the couch.
When you decide to start exercising, try to avoid machines. Take a leg curl for example. Yes it will build your leg muscles, but when will you ever have to do that motion in real life? A movement like squats is much more functional and applicable to a real life movement. Learning how to do a proper squat will also help you save your back if you ever have to pick up your grandkids off the floor, or even a small task like standing up from the couch without needing help!
I’m sure we’ve all heard of an elderly person falling and dislocating their hip. As we get older the nerve processes that help with stability and balance start declining. Incorporating balance movements into your workouts can help you reclaim balance in your life and strengthen supporting muscles that will hopefully prevent you from experiencing a nasty fall!