On the spectrum of physical ability, where do you rank?
More importantly, where do you want to rank?
Let’s look at a five-point scale. Most people over 50 fall into one of these categories.
We’ll look at each in more detail below. But take a guess now which one applies to you. How does that make you feel? Surely no one wants to think of themselves as dependent or frail – and everyone’s fitness goals are different, ranging from healthy function to high-level sports competition.
That’s what’s so liberating about a healthy lifestyle: It lets you live the way you want to live, whatever that means to you.
Come in and let us help you enjoy getting to where you want to be or maintaining your fitness level in fun, new ways. Exercise is the best medicine – and, no, it’s not too late to start.
From Elite to Dependent
Here’s how the Functional Aging Institute breaks down the stages, with broad direction on how people in each group can benefit from small group training. It’s a good structure to begin a discussion.
Description: These are the most healthy and functional folks, those who are regular exercisers and probably involved in recreational sports. They have advanced physical abilities, and they love working hard at their fitness.
Outlook: “Given their advanced physical abilities, there is really no limit on what they can do in a training session.”
Description: Most fit mature adults are considered fit in the area they train but might be deficient in other areas. Maybe a strong runner or cyclist has low strength, or a strong man has poor flexibility. There's such a big range here that FAI notes the distinction between "fully fit" and "semi-fit."
Outlook: “They need a heavier focus on the specific areas in which they are deficient.”
Description: The average mature adult can perform daily tasks on their own, but they don’t participate in any vigorous activities. This is the largest category, and some mature adults get trapped in complacency here, thinking that their independence means they don't need to exercise. But that can lull them into a dangerous place, where one fall or injury can knock them down to "frail" or "dependent" status.
Outlook: “This group needs a well-rounded mix with a focus on increasingly complex movements and those that challenge dynamic balance.”
Description: People at this stage have low functional abilities in most or all aspects – strength, poor balance, energy, etc. They need help performing everyday tasks.
Outlook: “They require an emphasis on basic strength and power exercises, as well as basic gait and mobility patterns. Balance movements should be more static and performed with caution because they have a high risk of falling.”
Individuals in this group typically require specialized one-on-one assistance and are not candidates for group classes.
Everyone is different
We know that you’re an individual, not a member of a demographic or even a subset on a scale like this.
Functional fitness doesn’t necessarily track with chronological age. If you don’t know a super-fit 80-year-old, you’ve seen examples of them in the media and in my studio. And, sadly, it’s more likely that you know, perhaps, someone who is 60 and frail.
We are here to help you get or stay fit by your own definition, for your own purposes. Those might include independence, fitness and maybe even elite athleticism way more than frailty and dependence.
Are you a Debbie Downer?
Or do you go around humming “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” all the time?
And which do you think is better for your health – a negative attitude or a positive one?
Yep, it should be obvious. And it’s also true.
Studies show that optimism is good for our physical and mental health, as well as our longevity.
Exercise helps. Simply by moving our bodies, we put ourselves in a better mood. And by maintaining strength, agility and endurance, we build upon our happiness every day.
So, go for a walk, ride a bike, lift weights, run, swim, hike, practice yoga, dance – whatever you like.
Sources: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, John’s Hopkins, WebMD
We’re still in January, far too early to even think about giving up on healthy habits for the year.
Whether you made a resolution to get fit or just renewed your commitment to exercise and to eat right, we’re here to keep you going throughout the year with these 19 reasons to stick with it in ’19.
Over the year, be sure to stay up to date on activities here and throughout the community so you can make plans and set different goals. Maybe you’ll walk, ride or run a charity 5K or longer race and need time to get ready for it. Or you want to build up your stamina for a dancing event or summertime hike. Or maybe you’d like to slim down for a wedding or other big family gathering.
Whatever your motivation, I'm here to help you reach your goals – and have a good, safe, healthy time while you’re doing it.
Let me know what motivates you. And don’t be shy to say when you need a little extra encouragement some days.
Sleep is so important any additional information related to the topic is worth a reminder of it's relevance to our overall health.
Weightlifting has countless health benefits for people over age 50, all throughout life. Resistance training for mature adults keeps us from losing muscle mass as we age. You might already know that it helps with weight loss, balance, blood pressure, and mood.
Did you also know that it helps with sleep, too?
Just one session of resistance training helps us fall asleep faster, studies show. One session helps what’s called “sleep consolidation,” or the brain’s ability to store memories and learning.
Weightlifting also improves general sleep quality. And it reduces the severity of sleep apnea, improving sleep and reducing disruptions that create chronic tiredness.
The relationship between resistance training and sleep works conversely: Good sleep is essential for exercise, too.
Here are some other tips for ensuring a good night’s rest;
Sources: WebMD, IDEA Health & Fitness Association
Have you ever heard the old saying, “The horse is out of the barn”?
It’s a folksy way of telling someone it’s too late to make a change.
It’s also one of the myths about fitness after 50 that we love to bust every chance we get. And here’s a great example of someone who has done so, Joe Robert Weaver.
Joe was almost 60 when his teenage son asked him for information about exercise. Since Joe had never much cared for training, he had a lot to learn – and he finally decided to get into shape along with his son.
Joe lifted heavy weights and quickly packed on 30 pounds – muscle, yes, but fat, too, since he was eating so much after lifting heavy weights. (That’s when he took the “before” photo on the left, above.)
He changed his way of eating, switched to lighter weights, and adopted a nasal breathing technique that he says gave him more energy.
Excellence after 50?
And then something amazing happened for Joe, who is now 67.
“I got shredded!” he says.
Joe’s abs appeared for the first time in his life at 60.
“I didn’t even know they were there,” he says.
Joe entered a physique contest for men over 40 and took second place.
That busts yet another myth – that people over 50 can only maintain their previous fitness level or just hope to slow inevitable decline.
But a rippling torso -- for the first time -- at 60?
Of course, that might not be your goal. Maybe you'd like to get stronger, improve your golf game, avoid falling or enjoy playing with the grandkids... The list goes on and on, but the point is the same.
Whatever your goal is, exercise can help you achieve it.
Joe’s Top 3 Tips for Getting Started;
“Excessive strength and endurance aren’t that important for most people,” Joe says.
What matters most in building balance, strength and endurance after 50? For him, Joe says it’s moderation in the dining room and consistency with your exercises in the gym.
“It shouldn’t be boring or too hard,” he found about working out. “I like my exercise to feel good during and after the workout. When I first started out, I wondered if people were going to think I was crazy.”
Now, Joe hopes his myth-busting success serves as an example: “You can accomplish whatever your goals are.”
Come talk to me about your own fitness goals and how to bust a myth or two you’ve heard about exercise. We don’t guarantee rippling abs like Joe’s, but we definitely will make it fun. Promise.
Ten years ago, Alan was a fit 60-year-old who had just returned from a long bicycle trip through France.
Then a simple blood test revealed type 2 diabetes.
His doctor gave him a three-day course on diet, exercise, and self-care for a diabetic. The doctor also recommended a local trainer. And, even though Alan knew his way around a gym, he adopted a new perspective and learned workouts to keep him healthy.
“My goals were different when I was younger,” says Alan, who enjoys an active lifestyle in Florida with his partner, 73, who is not diabetic. “Our social life revolves around meals and eating, so there are challenges. But as time wears on, we’ve adjusted how we eat and our exercise.”
The Canadian Diabetes Association says that diabetes rates in Canada have almost doubled over the past decade and will continue to rise. The CDA predicts that unless action is taken now, one in three people will be living with diabetes or prediabetes by the end of this decade. It can affect every decision, including what to eat, how to and how much exercise, and requires steady attention and management. A person’s weight is a major factor. Exercise and proper eating are important in preventing and managing diabetes.
The CDA says we can take steps to prevent type 2, the most common form. “Stay at a healthy weight, eat well and be active. With these steps, you can stay healthier longer and lower your risk of diabetes.”
The CDA defines type 2 diabetes ".. as a disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs and/or the body is unable to respond properly to the actions of insulin (insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes usually occurs later in life (although it can occur in younger people) and affects approximately 90% of people with diabetes. There is no cure. It is treated with careful attention to diet and exercise and usually also diabetes medications (antihyperglycemic agents) and/or insulin.
If you think you might be at risk, talk to your doctor. If you have been diagnosed, be sure to know about proper eating and exercising and take care of yourself every day.
How exercise helps
And no, you’re not too old to start exercising.
“Even if you've never exercised before, you can find ways to add physical activity to your day,” the CDA says. “Even if your activities aren't strenuous, you'll still get health benefits.”
Regular physical activity is important for everyone, but it is especially important for people with diabetes and those at risk for it. Get active and stay active by doing things you enjoy, from gardening to playing tennis to walking with friends.
For Alan, that means working out with a trainer at his favourite studio twice a week. He also enjoys biking, swimming, and walking.
Alan’s determination and focus are in all aspects of managing his illness – exercise, diet, checking his blood sugar, speaking with his doctor. Exercise has helped him have a better understanding of what he does and how he eats – a little bit of peace of mind, that his diabetes is more controllable.
Alan also has cut back on red meat, and has added protein to breakfasts, instead of just carbohydrates, like cereal and orange juice.
“I realize the importance of exercise in controlling my blood sugar,” Alan says. “As I look at my diabetes, the way I eat and the way I exercise… they go hand in hand.”
A massive study made headlines recently by concluding that not exercising is worse for your health than smoking and diabetes.
But many readers over 50 will be glad to know that the study also has a huge age-related finding: The spectacular benefits of exercise have no age limit.
"Whether you're in your 40's or your 80's, you will benefit in the same way," said the study’s senior author, Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Sedentary people are almost four times as likely to die early as those who exercise regularly, says the study.
"There actually is no ceiling for the benefit of exercise," he said. ""There's no age limit that doesn't benefit from being physically fit."
So, if you’re already exercising regularly, then keep it up.
But sadly, most North Americans of all ages don’t get enough exercise.
We believe what this study and the trend show – that exercise is right for everyone, regardless of age.
Come see us at Design Fitness Centre, and let us show you how comfortable, safe and fun it is to stay healthy and live longer.
Can you touch your toes?
Can you stand on one foot for 30 seconds?
If you can’t, you’re not alone. But balance and flexibility are among the key facets of physical fitness. And just like cardiovascular endurance and strength, they diminish with age unless we work on them.
Working on balance and flexibility helps prevent falls, which can be disastrous later in life. And just like it’s never too late to start working on them, it’s also never too soon. Anyone engaged in fitness should include stretching in his or her routine, whether beginning or experienced.
There’s a reason people have always talked about being “strong enough to bend,” you know.
Plus, stretching feels good. It lowers stress, and improves posture and circulation. It helps us perform everyday activities, like bending over and turning our heads. You can work on it everyday around the house and at work.
Here are some of the offerings that are popular among active adults. They are safe, low impact and require mindfulness, in the best sense.
Almost 40 million North Americans enjoy yoga’s health benefits, according to the 2016 Yoga in America Study.
About one-fifth are in their 50s, and another one-fifth are over 60.
Yoga is great for balance, strength and bone density. It helps with back pain, blood pressure and anxiety. The focus on breathing is simple and profoundly beneficial for the mind, body and spirit.
And, super-important for people over 50: Yoga is highly adaptable to everyone’s physical needs and limitations. Let your instructor know about any aches, arthritis, surgeries, etc. – and he or she will guide you to an alternative.
Pilates focuses on the core muscles. It is somewhat similar to yoga, but it foregoes the meditative or metaphysical aspects. It provides a safe, low-impact workout that involves working on a mat on the floor (along with some minor props that are furnished in class).
Also like yoga, Pilates generally moves at a gentle, deliberate pace and focuses on proper form and breathing. And it can build strength, reduce back pain, and improve posture, coordination and balance.
Pilates focuses on building strength in the core muscles, or the “powerhouse” of the legs, abdominals, arms, hips and back.
It was created by Joseph Pilates, a circus performer and boxer, while he was in a World War I internment camp. He practiced it into his 80s.
The slow, gentle movements of tai chi (pronounced TIE CHEE) have been practiced in China for thousands of years, and today by millions of people around the world.
The ancient martial art is sometimes called “meditation in motion.” And remembering the steps and their sequence is good for brain health and focus.
Studies show tai chi helps people with arthritis and Parkinson’s disease, as well as stress management, muscle tone, lower blood pressure and other aspects of good health.
Tai chi improves balance while standing still and also while moving.
General tips for stretching
Falls are the leading cause of death for people over 65, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. One in three adults falls each year. Thousands of North Americans die, and millions are hurt.
Whether here at the studio or at home with a book or video, please stretch – at least 15 minutes a day, three times a week. For a nice introduction to some basic movements, check out this from the National Institute on Aging.
Sometimes the smallest things pack the biggest punch.
That’s the case with elastic exercise bands that are common in gyms and fitness studios. They’re also affordable, lightweight and versatile enough to have around the house and carry in purses, backpacks and luggage.
Resistance bands moved beyond physical therapy and into fitness long ago. They are useful tools for trainers and elite athletes, but also for anyone on the fitness spectrum.
Bands are made of latex, plastic, rubber or fabric, and provide different levels of resistance. You can use bands for arm curls, presses, seated rows, squats and all kinds of stretches, moving at your own pace.
Bands are especially helpful or people over 50 for two reasons. First, they give more resistance the harder you work them, since their resistance grows the tighter you pull. Second, they’re conversely easier when you get to the point of a repetition that has the least tension or resistance. That’s good if you have a joint issue to work around.
Bands help with muscular endurance and joint stabilization, says the National Academy of Sports Medicine. They help you move in multiple planes of motion and achieve greater range of motion. Some prefer better mobility and functionality, which increase our functional fitness for everyday tasks.
Bands make a nice portable piece of equipment so that you can keep exercising while on vacation, away at the cottage or just taking a few days off. Remember a couple of exercises we've done with them in class and get packing!!!
About New Year Resolutions, there’s bad news, and then there’s good news.
First the bad news: Most of them fail.
Now the good news: People over 50 have more life experience and tools to succeed at them. You’re more realistic, focused and balanced – in life and in reaching a goal, which is really all a resolution is, anyway – a goal.
As fitness experts, we know that plenty of people start each year wanting to get in shape. So, they join a gym or studio like ours full of determination to stick with it, to lose the weight, to eat better, etc. And that’s great. We want everyone to gain the benefits of exercise. But not as many of them incorporate fitness habits into their lifestyle for the long term.
Some people don’t like to think about resolutions, and we can see why. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking on track.