So you can no longer pull all-nighter. You’ve definitely forgotten how to count to 80 in French. And you’re pretty sure the footage of the last time you tried roller skating ended up on a “funniest videos” episode. Clearly, most people can’t always perform at the same level that they enjoyed as teenagers or young adults. However, does that also apply to exercise? Are there certain types of exercise that you should retire from as you age, or does anything go as long as it still feels okay?
Before we answer, here’s a little Aging Body Reality Check for you. As your body ages, your arteries and blood vessels become more rigid, causing your heart to have to work extra hard to pump blood. Also, your bones may become less dense, possibly leading to osteoporosis. You can also experience both constipation and incontinence. And, if that’s not enough fun, your cognitive function may start to decline. Sounds great, huh? Well, the good news is that all of these issues, and many more, can be dramatically helped by exercising. However, there are a few moves that might wreak havoc on your body – even more so today than they did decades ago. Curious? Here’s our own take on exercising as you age, things to stay away from, and activities that you should definitely keep doing.
We love for our 55+ year old clients to take part in walking, jogging, hand weights, and water fitness. People of all ages enjoy Tai Chi, yoga, and certain kinds of dancing. Be sure to explore with your trainer some new kinds of exercise as well – he or she likely has some other great ideas. In fact, keeping (or getting) active as you age can have some pretty significant health boosts, such as it helps to prevent diabetes or heart disease, and can reduce arthritis pain. Weight training can help prevent bone loss. Exercise can also help keep your mind sharp and improve your mood.
Jumping, such as during fitness class, can be damaging to your joints; especially your knees. Yes, perhaps you still feel great doing them, but keep in mind that the aging body is more likely to get hurt than it was a decade or more ago. Ditto for heavy running. Running is great exercise, of course, but aging runners are more prone to falls, strained backs and hamstrings, bursitis, bunions, shin splints, and heel pain. To make your running easier on your body, run on grass, tracks, or dirt instead of pavement. Also, make sure you wear high-quality shoes, with orthotics if necessary. It might also be a good idea to take part in balance exercises to help prevent falls.
Our biggest no-no for clients of any age is only doing one kind of exercise. As in with your retirement stocks, diversify. Your trainer can help you keep a routine that includes weight training, cardio, stretching, balance exercises, and more. Also, avoid jumping into any exercise without warming up. You may have been able to cheat past this rule when you were younger, but no more. Your muscles and joints are much more likely to fight back if too much is demanded of them too soon.
Be sure to let your trainer know of any problem areas of your body, such as old injuries or sore areas. She or he can guide you through exercises that won’t put additional strain on your body, and that will strengthen and tone other parts.
Exercise can, and should, be a vital part of your routine at any age, but especially for clients who are over 50. A few good exercise habits can leave you meeting retirement age with a strong mind, and healthy body, and plenty of energy.