“If you have your health, you have everything.”…….. “You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.”
These are two statements that sum up how many older adults feel these days.
Personally, fitness has been a vital part of my life over the years. Now into my mid 50’s, I find it plays a very important role not only in my physical shape, bones, and mood but also in my mental strength.
Aging can bring on more complications with life: financial, aging parents, growing children, job changes, death, etc. all of which can add stress to anyones life. Fitness helps to combat all of that and has helped me to enjoy life more fully.
Research shows as we age ‘functional independence is directly dependent on physical fitness.’
Also, “the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample energy to enjoy leisure pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies.” (2)
One of my clients didn’t even start an exercise program until she was 74, and what a difference it made to her life. She would often say, “I should have done this YEARS ago!”.
Fitness has so many benefits for people of all ages and abilities. As we age, some factors need to be taken into consideration. Our bodies have gone through a lot over the years and need personalized attention.
Even if you have significant physical limitations, the proper fitness professional will be able to guide you with a program adapted to your personal needs.
The recommendations are that all individuals engage in some cardiovascular, strength/endurance, flexibility, and balance movements on most days of the week (1).
Keeping fit as we age allows us to:
- Keep up with the grandkids
- Feel like we can do anything without fear
- Improve our Balance, stability, agility, and functional movement.
- Catch ourselves if we slip or trip.
- Enjoy life
New to fitness? Or are you getting back into a fitness routine after a long layoff? Here are some tips to help you get started.
#1 Clearance from your doctor
- Most of us have some medical/physical issues to take into consideration
- We may not be as spry as we were when we were in our 20’s, so a check-up is a good idea prior to starting something new.
- We may have developed arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, etc.… or a combination of ailments
- Your doctor can give guidelines to you, and work closely with your Personal Trainer to create an appropriate program .
Things may have changed internally or externally over the year, so it is a good idea to check in with your doctor for a yearly check-up.
#2 Find something you enjoy doing
- What do you like to do? If you are doing something that doesn’t appeal to you, then the chances are that you will not stick with it. You should enjoy and look forward to the activity you have chosen
- Does not have to be in a gym. There is plenty of activities that you can do outside the gym that will give you multiple benefits.
- The outdoors offers not only physical benefits but also mental ones. There is nothing like fresh air and the forest to bring you peace of mind, sleep benefits.
- Walking/hiking in nature
- Kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing
- Dance, yoga, skiing, biking, swimming, tennis, aquafit and so much more
#3 Find a workout buddy or group
- There is something to be said by having a workout buddy. It makes us responsible for keeping up with a program and ‘showing up.’
- A group atmosphere can be stimulating and push us a little more then we may have done on our own
- Meeting new friends and creating a fun atmosphere can make working out feel like more of a social event.
- Group fitness classes offer a variety of fitness benefits, including cardiovascular, muscular, and flexibility. You also have the added benefit of an instructor who can guide you and give you the help you need.
- Join a walking or cycling group. There are even mall walking groups which works great especially in the colder months. That is as long as you don’t get sidetracked with shopping
- Small group personal training is also another good option if you are looking for a group atmosphere with the care and attention of a Personal Trainer.
#4 Seek help from a Professional
- If you are not sure where to start or how to perform exercises correctly, a Personal Trainer or Physiotherapist is an excellent place to look for help. They will take your personal needs and limitations into consideration and personalize a fitness program just for you.
- They will also monitor your progress and adjust your plan so you will see success
- They are motivators to help you stay excited about your program and improved fitness levels
- They will work closely with your doctor making sure to address all needs and limitations.
- Functional Training is essential and included in your workouts
#5 Change it up
- Things not only can get boring after a while, but our bodies will adapt and begin stagnating, not progressing anymore (hitting a plateau).
- By changing our activity or intensity, this will help break through plateaus and keep us motivated and excited about our fitness program.
- We may have different summer activities than in winter. We may choose to bike and hike or do an outdoor yoga class in the summer. Then move into group training at a gym in the winter or add an indoor cycling class into the mix.
#6 Live in the moment
- We only live once, so enjoy life to its fullest!
- Kayaking on a lake or walking through the woods or any activity that gives you the time to think and reflect gives us immense mental and emotional benefits. Helps us to think clearly or work out a problem. To feel gratitude for what we have and life itself.
You are never too old to start a fitness program!
And the incredible amount of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that come from being physically active far outweigh being sedentary and unhappy.
So whether you are new to fitness or starting up again after a layoff the key is to JUST START 🙂