As we age it's vital that we continue to be active on a regular basis. Why is that?
As an 'older' Personal Trainer I'm often asked about the type of activities that are suitable for more mature clients. My answer is always the same; everything and anything.
Exercise, or 'training' as I prefer to call it, provides a range of benefits at any age. It can help with balance and coordination, improve strength, boost memory, lift mood, reduce blood pressure and prevent bone loss.
However a certain number of myths still prevail which suggest that the onset of middle, and older, age significantly reduces our capabilities. Too often we excuse ourselves from activity because getting older is seen as the natural bedfellow of becoming weaker, tired and out of shape.
To prove the myth wrong, there are many people in the UK and throughout the world, who continue to train successfully in their 70's, 80's and beyond, who reap the physical, psychological and social benefits.
Why do we feel weaker as we grow older?
Most of the physical issues that we might automatically link with ageing are actually more related to inactivity than to simply getting older.
Becoming weaker, gaining fat, losing coordination and developing poor posture are all symptoms of not being active enough, regardless of age.
We have become products of our 21st century lifestyles, and are now less physically active than our ancestors. We sit in our cars, at our desks, and on the sofa and wonder why our posture is not great and our bodies are not fit for purpose. However, our rapid decline is not inevitable and can be dramatically slowed, and often reversed. I train movement, not muscles and aim to improve physical functionality.
I have clients at 50- 60 years of age who are now lifting heavier weights than people 30 years younger. They are more flexible than they ever were, and are able to recover from intensive training periods more effectively.
They have lost fat and become physically more capable. Regular progressive training develops confidence, improves posture, generates joint mobility and allows for day to day activities to be carried out more easily.
It's also fun!
What kind of training is best?
Whilst all forms of exercise can be of some benefit I strongly believe that load bearing activity, or weight training, is of real importance as we age.
There is solid evidence which demonstrates a positive link between weight training and bone strength which is particularly important in relation to the prevention of osteoporosis, especially as levels of oestrogen decline.
I have also experienced excellent results with clients wanting to lose fat.
Weight training, carried out correctly, stimulates muscle growth generating an ongoing energy requirement, even at rest, for 24-48hrs after the training session is over. Our calorie output is therefore raised.
Bones, just like muscles, become stronger with use and deteriorate with a sedentary lifestyle. The key message as we age is therefore to remain active. Whether you enjoy swimming, running, cycling, weight training or any other activity which raises your heart rate and places your body under stress (that's what exercise is after all) then do it regularly.
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