Reeling in the Years
Bringing back the once-fit body that got away
By Stew Smith
As we age, fitness and health become more important in upholding the quality of our lives. Think of your body like a truck. You do not go years without performing tuneups and regular maintenance, and you don’t put “junk fuel” in your truck. Why do this to your body? An ill-treated body will react the same way a neglected truck does if it goes five to 10 years with little or no maintenance. It will eventually break down, and fixing it will cost more money and time than a simple maintenance plan.
Out of Shape? How to Get Started
Obtaining a higher fitness level is possible at any age, whether you are starting from scratch or not. Whether trying to get started with a fitness routine for the first time ever or restarting after taking a few decades of vacation from regular exercise, there is hope. In only minutes a day you can go from being sedentary to reaching a higher fitness level.
The aim of any exercise program is to lose fat without losing muscle and without reducing your body’s metabolic rate. Aerobic exercise and resistance training are the ideal combination to do this. Aerobic exercise metabolizes calories and raises the metabolic rate. The heart rate needs to be raised to a comfortable level for 20-30 minutes at least three times a week. By exercising aerobically, calories will be burned at a rate of 300 plus per hour depending on your weight and fitness level. It will also raise your metabolic rate for approximately 24 hours after you finish training.
If you are starting an exercise regime for the first time, train at a steady pace for as long as comfortably possible. Don’t feel ready to jog? The most basic moves will work when you are on the road. Stand up and sit down. Lay down and stand up. Climb in and out of your truck. Make these simple moves 10 times each for a full-body movement workout. Once that gets easy, do it holding 10-20 pounds.
Already in Shape? How to Maintain
If you are already in shape, it is important to train smart as you age in order to decrease the chances of injuries. The biggest culprit in injury as we age is losing our balance. As we get older, our body can lose the quick reaction time that lets us catch ourselves before we fall. Adding some simple exercises to your routine will help improve your balance. The next time you do dumbbell exercises like bicep curls, overhead presses, triceps extensions and others, build your balance along with your strength by standing on one leg. Do the same thing to pass the time while standing in line — see if you can stand on one leg for one minute without catching yourself. If that is too easy, try closing your eyes too. You will feel the muscles in your legs work to keep you from falling.
Flexibility and Non-Impact Aerobics: The key to longevity at all fitness levels
Flexibility programs like yoga or even a daily stretching plan as recommended in my Lower Back Plan will get you well on your way to building more flexible joints. Non-impact aerobic activities like swimming, biking, rowing, roller-blading and elliptical gliding are great forms of cardiovascular exercise especially if you are severely overweight. These activities will help you burn calories and fat, build muscle, and strengthen bones (some will help with balance) while protecting the joints from unnecessary pounding.