Is 50 the new 40 or is it even better?
Fifty is definitely the new 40. So if you are about to turn 50 (or perhaps if you are already there) it’s certainly not the time to stop exercising, in fact quite the opposite is true. At least half of the age related diseases and injuries are caused by disuse and misuse. We should therefore be building strong bodies to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, ward off osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, osteomalacia and boost metabolism. Women lose lean muscle tissue each year after 30,bones become brittle and the midline starts to spread. The exercises that you do as you approach 50 and beyond play a crucial part in your senior years. The activity must relevant to your age, general physical and mental condition and also take into consideration lifestyle and any existing injuries. We know that women are prone to the middle aged spread, this is a combination of metabolic syndrome, which includes slower metabolism, high blood pressure and increased body fat %.
Easing back into an exercise program that includes a combination and variety of exercise is important to keep you healthy and moving safely. So what helps to reduce body fat and get lean bodies? Here’s a few tips:
WARM UP. Never exercise a cold body – a minimum of five minutes of gentle movement before any activity to allow the blood to flow and the joints to get warm. As we get older, our muscles fibres shrink and reduce in number. Our joints can become deteriorated with general wear and tear, synovial fluid can decrease and the cartilage can become thinner. Think carefully before you engage in activities such as boot camps step, body combat etc.
INTENSITY should be easy to moderate to begin with. Ease into the program, be patient and allow a good 4 6 weeks to start to feel the effects of training again. It should not take any more than 2 days to recover from a training session, if you are still sore after a workout 4 -5 days later, chances are you have overdone it and/or have caused an injury. It is best to seek a Personal trainer that has specialised in postural and rehab to assess your movement and get you moving safely.
VARIETY. Change your program, as they say “if nothing changes nothing changes”. Your body adapts very quickly to weights and overload. We therefore have to change or increase what we are doing to get results; otherwise it just becomes a range of movement with no benefit to our the systems. If you were given a gym program when you joined a year ago and are still doing the same program, you’re probably wasting your time and money and may be causing repetitious injuries.
It’s important that an exercise routine is altered every 4 – 6 weeks, changing either load, intensity or frequency, but preferably not all three in one go. You should also be doing all the major compound muscles. Lifting weights is a great exercise to build lean muscle, the more lean muscle we have, the more our bodies metabolise and operate more effectively. Therefore it’s perfect for women to lose weight! Caution: remember to give your body a full 24 hour recovery between weight sessions for the same muscles.
CONSISTENCY. It’s important to keep a good routine. Exercise at least 4 -5 times a week getting a combination of strength, stamina and suppleness, eat healthy nutritious meals (don’t forget to include Vitamin D as well as Omegas), drink plenty of water, get at least 7 hours sleep a night and try to go to bed at the same time every night. Once you leave work – leave it there, wind down and allow yourself to have some quality ME time away from all distractions for at least 30mins each day.
PASSION. Find something that you love to do and make time to do it regularly. Having a goal to do something keeps that focus. If you love swimming – great, but make sure you include some weight bearing activities as well. Golf is a great way to exercise, both cardiovascular and strength, it’s also supposed to provide stress relief?, but from experience that would depend on how well you play on the day… Bushwalking is also fantastic way to keep fit and is emerging as a contender for an all round perfect exercise, , strengthening core, butt, legs, improves cardiovascular system and importantly being outdoors allows awakening all of the senses, allows the mind to wander and relax. This is also now a Beyond Blue endorsed activity for depression.
FLEXIBILITY. Add a good stretch routine after every session, if your walking then concentrate on leg stretches. If you really want to stay healthy, add a weekly yoga session. Yoga is a fantastic way to keep the body and mind supple. This will not only keep the musculoskeletal system, tendons and ligaments strong but flexible, but will also allow you to learn and practice relaxation and breathing techniques keeping the stress anxiety, depression, menopause symptoms at bay. Yoga is about calming the mind and listening to the subtle signals from our body, easing into the physical postures and becoming in tune with ourselves, developing methods to become healthier and happier and in control of our mind and body.
STOP. Listening to everything you hear and see on social media that situps, crunches, double leg lifts are good for you and will give you a flat toned stomach! WRONG, unfortunately the gym environment and some Pilates instructors continue to prescribe these exercises which are dangerous for your lower back and pelvic floor. These exercises cause the superficial abdominal muscles to press down into the transverse abdominals (essential core muscle) and this bears down to cause pressure on the lower back and on pelvic floor. If these are already weak due to age or injury, you have the further risk of disc damage, herniation and pelvic floor prolapse.
I’ll cover the worst of these exercises in more detail in another blog and give you some really great alternatives for strong core and backs.
Live Healthy, Live Happy. Kelly Pope