Why Your Fitness Plan Should Adjust as You Age
September is Healthy Aging Month
Enter, September: the time of year when the kids (or grandkids) go back to school, the summer heat is barely waning, and everyone is already talking about autumn.
As your life settles into a new rhythm, you’ll probably notice the new aches and pains brought on by your summer adventures. You may have hiked a whole mountain range or taken it easy all summer, but odds are your body isn’t responding to the activity or inactivity the way it used to.
With September here to remind us about healthy aging, let’s take some time to talk about why your fitness plan should change as you age.
The 4 Types of Exercise
The National Institute on Aging (NIH) recommends subscribing to a routine that combines the 4 types of exercise:
Most of the time, a solid workout regimen should include all 4 exercise types. As the body ages, however, it is even more important to give your body a variety of options. Doing so ensures that you’re not over-exerting any single part of your body and it helps keep your workouts fun and interesting.
Endurance exercises, also known as aerobics or cardio, are those activities that get your blood, heart, and lungs pumping. Keeping these organs and systems sharp is key to performing typically exhausting tasks for longer periods of time. As you improve your endurance, things like taking the stairs or doing yardwork become less fatiguing.
If you feel like your body isn’t physically able to do an endurance type exercise, consider this:
The American Heart Association suggests that “even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.” This means that you don’t have to push your body to the extreme. Exercising minimally, in a way that is comfortable and safe for your body, is still an improvement from doing nothing at all.
Swimming, walking briskly, running, and cycling are all great examples of aerobics. At City Sports Club, you have a variety of group class choices to choose from as well. The best part about any exercise in this category is that you don’t have to worry about “trying to keep up.” It can all be customized and set to a pace that you, your heart, and your lungs are happy with.
Strength exercises are great for working the different muscle groups in your body. Having strong muscles isn’t just about being able to lift heavy things.
Research by Seguin and Nelson shows that when you train your muscles to grow stronger, you are helping preserve your bone density, reducing your risk for osteoporosis, and combatting the symptoms associated with chronic diseases like “heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.”
Examples of strength exercises include:
Balance exercises are often forgotten because cardio and weight lifting seem to get all the attention. This part of your routine, however, is important for reducing your risk of falling and improving your overall fitness.
A study by Wolfson and colleagues even found that a combination of regular balance and strength training was capable of restoring their participants to a level comparable to someone 3 to 10 years younger!
Examples of good balance exercises include yoga or Tai Chi (both of which are also great for building strength and flexibility). A great benefit of these forms of exercise is that you’re not limited by your location; you can do many of the poses no matter where you are.
Finally, we have flexibility exercises. These are great for improving your ability to do some very basic things with a lot less pain or struggle. Picking up a dropped pen, for example.
Flexibility exercises involve low-impact movements that should be taken slowly and according to your level of mobility. Mat Pilates and yoga are some great examples of classes that will guide you through a variety of movements that target your whole body. The positions can be modified to be easier or more difficult while still giving attention to every muscle group.
- “4 Types of Exercise.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6 Feb. 2019, go4life.nia.nih.gov/4-types-of-exercise/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2019.
- “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids.” Www.heart.org, American Heart Association, 2018, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults. Accessed 29 Aug. 2019.
- “Balance Exercise.” Www.heart.org. American Heart Association, 2018. Web. 30 Aug. 2019. <https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/balance-exercise>.
- Seguin, Rebecca, BS, CSCS, and Miriam E Nelson, PhD. “The Benefits of Strength Training for Older Adults.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Elsevier, 1 Oct. 2003, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0749379703001776. Accessed 30 Aug. 2019.
- Wolfson, Leslie, et al. “Balance and Strength Training in Older Adults: Intervention Gains and Tai Chi Maintenance – Wolfson – 1996 – Journal of the American Geriatrics Society – Wiley Online Library.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 27 Apr. 2015, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1532-5415.1996.tb01433.x.