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Age Shouldn’t be Your Restriction When It Comes To Exercising

Age Shouldn’t be Your Restriction When It Comes To Exercising

What do athletes train for? Athletes train for the event that they are competing in. The field however stretches far from the courts and crowds.

You don’t need to complete a podium finish to be an athlete

There are 1/4th of Americans aged 65+ that fall down each year.  Every 11 seconds, another adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.  Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.  Chronic diseases account for 75% of the money our nation spends on health care, yet only 1% of health dollars are spent on public efforts to improve overall health[1].

Forget the assumption that at fill-in-the-blank-age our bodies will fall apart and we will become weak.  Empower yourself to maintain or improve your health through exercise.

You may not be donning some state-of-the-art gear, have sponsors or compete for a podium finish.  Your sport is life and this event has no off seasons.  In life, we literally move to do what we need to do.  Especially to keep our independence as we get older it is key to be able to move well for our quality of life.

The events include the squat, deadlift, pulling objects, pushing things, rotating and lunging. Then think about what you like to do – play with the kids or grandkids, golf, vacation, gardening, triathlons, and the list goes on!  In this metaphor is a nugget of truth- “training for life does not stop at a prescribed age.” What happens if we decide to throw in the towel and stop training for life?

You should not stop exercising regardless of your age.  Disregard assumptions about physical potential as you age because you decide what your potential is.  The point is to hone in on the important fact that exercise is much more than “getting in shape”.  Your type of exercise may change as you age, but don’t stop training for life.

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Things could be so different when you choose to empower yourself

Imagine you are planning a trip to visit New Zealand after an old friend from college shares her sons story of the amazing landscapes there.  You not only enlist your partner in crime, but also the invitation is extended to your kids and grandkids.  They all accept the challenge.  Plans are made, everyone is excited.  This will be a splurge but a worthwhile one.  You all arrive in New Zealand.  The next day everyone is up early and ready to log some miles.

Scenario A

You want to participate in the story telling during the walk but you are too focused on trying to navigate uneven terrain.  In the back of your head you knew that your balance was not what it used to be but just decided to push through it.  It is also quickly apparent that it is difficult for you to mount any areas where you have to step up.  Only an hour in the hike and the group is slowing to your pace and you hear a family member say “see I told you this was not a good idea, she is too old for this trip, especially with her arthritis”.

Scenario B.

You are not only able to navigate the terrain during the trip, but you are making it look easy.  Because you knew the trip was coming up you started to work with a fitness professional to improve your balance and strength among other things.  Your knee pain became more manageable because of your sessions and with the help of walking sticks you are able to relieve the pressure on your knees.  Pictures are taken, stories are told and memories are made.

What are you going to do when you get to that point that you are able to experience that joy of enjoying that trip.. vs the frustration of not being able to complete it?

What are you going to do with your life so you make sure you experience your wants and likes?

I am training with a 78 year young client right now for her vacation in Columbia.  Ruth wants to be able to enjoy her trip without being distracted by things like her balance and strength.  Since working with me she has made strides in her balance and agility.  Of great importance she has been aware of how our sessions have improved her everyday life.  She has also purchased and is using walking sticks during her walks to ease the pressure on her arthritic knee.  Otherwise known as Nordic walking, it has been shown in studies the cardiovascular benefits from it.

    Train for life so you stay in the green and keep your functional capacity and have a good quality of life where you can do what you want to do.  Inactivity will lead to a quick decline to a place where inability to do everyday activities is life changing.

    This is how you can get started

    The first step is to talk to your doctor to get cleared for exercise and also make sure that you are on top of any chronic conditions that you have.  Also, get your eyes checked.  Then explore all of the options for you.  Some love the big gym environment, others prefer small studios.  Some individuals prefer personal trainers, others prefer the community aspect of a group class.  Depending on the time of the year and where you live you may have some outdoor options.

    You may encounter individuals that disregard you because of your age, make assumptions or don’t know how to work with an older population.  Disregard them and move on to those that show you the respect of challenging you just enough and don’t treat you like you are fragile.

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    Do exercises that can benefit your daily activities 

    These exercises below should be part of your regime: squat, deadlift, pulling, pushing, lunging and rotating.  Remember, get cleared for exercise with your doctor and follow any instructions that they may have.  Also feel free reach out to professionals to give you some hands on instructions.

    Chair Squats

    A good way to improve your squats is to do chair squats. Sit on the edge of a chair without rollers. Have your feet firmly planted so you can stand up. Try crossing your arms across your chest so you don’t rock. Keep a good tall posture. When you do rise push off on your heels. Stand up tall. When you return to the chair don’t just fall down. Return to the chair slowly.

    Deadlift

    Even if you are not familiar with this name, you do this movement in everyday life. Think about how many times you pick something up off the floor. Many times you are executing a deadlift. There are many useful videos about proper form. Click here to read an article and see the videos. It may be useful to practice this without a weight and have a fitness professional watch your form if you can. This exercise is different than a squat.

    Pulling

    Resistance bands are great tools for everyone. There are resistance bands with handles already attached and of ranging weights just like dumbbells. You can execute rows if you attach them to a sturdy pole or enlist a partner to hold the other end.

    Pushing

    Being able to push is important when getting up off the floor, moving furniture or other objects. Wall pushups can be a great way to not only build your arm strength but it can be a good core workout. Start completely vertical and be able to place your palms against the wall at the same time. Try a few pushups against the wall. Focus on bringing your chest to the wall, not your head. Then increase the angle by taking a step back and trying it again. Now your feet are further back than your hands. Make sure you keep that standing plank & keep your body straight like a board. Soon you will find a comfortable but challening angle that you can start to practice your pushups.

    Lunging

    You want to be able to step in a direction and pick something up. When you do this you are performing a lunge. Strengthen your legs and improve your balance. Start off stepping at a comfortable length forward and pushing back with that front foot. Try stepping to the side and then pushing back. If you are working on improving your balance have a wall at your back for support. Soon step at different angles – just like we do in our everyday life. Think of your path of lunges like the hands of a clock and hit all of them. Holding a moderate weight in your hands can also be a good idea after you have mastered it and your balance is improved.

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    Rotating

    A good way to incorporate rotation in your training is adding a rotation to your lunge. Lunge to the side and then slowly turn in the direction that you lunged. Make sure that you keep tall and don’t lean over. A good way to keep your core engaged is to cross your arms and have your elbows up like a genie. Also if you have a medicine ball or dumbbell you can hold this after you have mastered it and your balance has improved.

    Some mental notes to help you maintain this habit

    Get friends and have fun

    If there is an activity that you enjoy like lawn bowling, dancing or tennis, join a team.  Often as we get older we don’t take time to play and move.  Mix in some activity that is outside the box of “working out”.  There are also many social and emotional benefits of being part of an active community.  Or if you prefer to do something around the house start gardening, that can be a great way to get outside and move!

    Create milestones to see the difference

    Is there something that you have always wanted to do? Train for that vacation, trip or experience you want to enjoy.  You will see how your improvement benefits your everyday life activities too.

    The saying rings true – move it or lose it.  If you don’t train for things like balance or strength chances are those abilities will erode.  You can maintain or regain it, don’t think that you can’t! Instead of dragging your feet to exercise to “get in shape” change your mindset to exercise so you can do what you want to do in life!

    Reference

    [1] National Council Of Aging: Fall Prevention Fact

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    Damien Joyner

    Fitness Professional for the diverse 40+ Population!

    How to Set a Fitness Goal That Will Last? If You Take Care Of Your Need, Age Wouldn’t Be A Problem To Your Fitness Routine Age Shouldn’t be Your Restriction When It Comes To Exercising

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    Last Updated on July 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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