If you step into a gym at any given hour more than likely the majority of the population would be 25-50 years of age. Many people associate aging with the ability to move less. But the truth is that if we build habits of clean eating and daily exercise in our younger years and remain consistent in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the desire to always improve, then the onset of immobility, stiff muscles, and age related injuries (due to lack of movement) would not be something that most adults over 50 are struck with.
In an “American Time Use Survey” taken from 2003-2006 the most popular activity that adults over the age of 54 participated in was walking. Now I don’t want to knock walking, but I strongly believe if we learned the proper way to exercise and increased our strength, flexibility, and endurance over our lifetimes, than the number of adults over 54 participating in strength training and other more intense activities would be higher. I do believe in age and fitness level appropriate exercising. But I just can’t buy that getting older should be a reason why we move less, or stop certain activities. If there are injuries that are contraindications, then of course. But not just for the sake of aging. I also would like to add, it is never too late to start. Even if you have not participated in organized exercise for most of your life, it does not mean you never can. You just need to start slow, and increase as you improve.
There are many reasons and benefits why exercise should be a part of ALL of our lives. Just to name a few:
- Promotes a healthy heart.
- Reduces stress.
- Protects against, and may even reverse the damage, of diabetes.
- Is important for brain health.
- Keeps the fat down.
- Is soothing and can help fight off depression.
- Will improve your quality of life, keep you mobile, flexible, and happy!
In a different source of collected data 60% of the US population does not participate in exercise. Even more disturbing only 7% to 8% of adults participate in exercise three or more times per week. Considering the increase in plastic surgery, and procedures to try to maintain a youthful presence, you would think that more time would be spent on a less expensive alternative. That a road more fulfilling physically, mentally and emotionally would be the road most traveled.
Sir Isaac Newton stated ” a body in motion stays in motion”. How true this is. It is a very simple and easy concept. Start slow, just start, continue, and watch how your body, mind, and soul changes. Stick with it, and you lengthen your life, and improve in ways that are endless.
The point I can not stress enough is to avoid doing too much too soon. Listen to your body. Improve or increase when you physically can, not when you mentally want to. Often, especially when a person starts or gets back into a fitness program, that amazing feeling kicks in and we think we are super heroes. Forgetting our age, or past injuries. Resist the temptation of jumping ahead too quickly. If you give into this temptation you may end up injuring yourself, and then you will have to nurse yourself back to health. This can be very frustrating and even lead to falling off the exercise wagon.
If it has been a while and you are over the age of 50, it is even more important to warm up, stretch, and cool down. It would also be beneficial to incorporate yoga, or any type of flexibility exercise. Do not limit yourself to just one type of exercise. Trying various forms not only will make it fun, but also give you overall conditioning. Neglecting a specific area of strength, or flexibility may result in injury.
Proper hydration and nutrition is also an area that cannot be ignored. In order to push your body, be it for the first time or restarting a program, you need to make sure you remain well hydrated and you have the energy (food) to complete the exercises you choose. A healthy balanced diet with complex carbs, a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and good fats will give your body all that you need to accomplish what you set out to do physically.
Watching my mother exercise at the age of 60 and seeing her sweat from every pore while seeing her do this over the course of her life has been an inspiration. And I would bet that my love for fitness began when I saw her dressed in her leotard, leg warmers, head band, and tights preparing to go get “physical”. Which leads me to this final point. Be an example for your children and grandchildren. We learn from watching others. Monkey see, monkey do. Aside from your own improvements, knowing you played a role in someone’s decision to make health and fitness a part of their life may be one of the most rewarding things you do.