YOU ARE YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Movement, Motivation and Mindset for Active Seniors

Monthly Archives: June 2016

Energy Bite 142 – Variety is the Spice of Exercise

As Seniors, our health and fitness goals are different from those of the younger set. We want to feel good, be healthy, have energy and look good too. We want to be able to be active and independent. We want to feel young, lose fat, live long, expire quickly and leave a good looking corpse.

When we decide to follow the path of common sense and start including exercise as part of our habit patterns, we want to enjoy the process and feel that we are really accomplishing something and making progress.

Most seniors want to be strong, healthy and fit. We like being able to move. Just don’t call it exercise. So anything that we do call exercise had better work, and work fast, otherwise we will stop doing it.

OK, how about a reality check. To avoid a deteriorating body and mind, we must move our bodies, eat right, breathe deeply, and get plenty of rest and sleep. We also must have a positive attitude toward doing it. That’s not so easy to install as a habit pattern. We are used to sitting in front of the TV watching whatever we enjoy. We are used to sitting at a computer doing whatever. We are not used to moving a lot during the day, and most of us certainly aren’t used to “exercise”.

One way to motivate ourselves to move more is to include a lot of variety in our exercise. We can lift weights, walk, stretch, and do all sorts of other movements to keep ourselves fit, but we don’t want it to be boring. We need variety.

Different kinds of exercises do different things and we need them all as we age. We need resistance exercise to keep our muscles and bones doing their jobs. We need to walk or even run to keep our heart and lungs strong and healthy. We need stretching and calisthenics to keep our joints working right. We need balance work so we don’t fall. We need variety.

There are numerous varieties of exercise and movement disciplines to draw from, each providing one or all of the above. Among these are:

Pilates . . . Yoga or Tai Chi . . . Bodybuilding . . . Olympic Style Weightlifting . . . Martial Arts . . . Gymnastics . . . movement focused programs like MovNat . . . and many others.

The variety and choices are many, and they are not mutually exclusive.

There are very few instructional materials for seniors on the subject of exercise. There are tons of books for younger people and some for middle aged people, but as we become older, our needs and capabilities change.  Exercise becomes more critical to our health and fitness yet we have to adapt our exercise to reflect the realities of aging. Our bodies will adapt to the training it is provided. Most training programs are based on the overload principle called “S.A.I.D.” in the Personal Training Vocabulary. Technically that means “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand” which means our bodies will adapt to increased workloads, as long as we don’t overdo it. If we increase the demand (overload) periodically, our bodies will adapt with more strength, longer runs or walks, and increased range of motion of our joints.

As we get older, we need to reinforce your ability to push things and pull things. We need to be able to lift things and carry what we lift. That means we must do things that will build, or at least maintain our strength as we age. When we build strength, day to day activities are easier to do than if we don’t.

There are many forms of exercise to choose from. Choose one, or better still, combine a couple from the list above, and get started. Check with your doctor first, and then get on with it. And like I wrote at the beginning, you’ll feel young, lose fat, live long, expire quickly and leave a good looking corpse.

Thanks for reading.