As an over-50 personal trainer and fitness coach, I'll be the first to admit that I'm acutely aware of how my own body and fitness have changed over the past decade.
Gone are the days of the familiar bursts of speed, explosive power and youthful agility; not to mention that long since vaporized sense of invincibility and indestructibility (so common during one's prime of life) that once seemed never to wane despite training for almost 6 to 7 days-a-week, splitting between strength training and endurance work, circuit drills and hill sprints - all within the very same workout day more often than not!
Instead, what has become the norm now are those niggling bouts of aches and pains that seem to persist even with prolonged periods of rest and recovery, and the extended "down" time needed between workout sessions nowadays.
As much as I still love and look forward to all my scheduled exercise sessions - be they home-based ones or outdoor physical workouts - what have become par for the course in recent years are the constant tweaking, modifications and adjustments that I have to do to my own training variables in order to help my body adapt and adjust to a different phase in life.
Lest I sound more and more like a jaded and bitter Generation Xer, may I qualify that on the contrary, I'm actually glad and certainly thankful to have made it to this stage of my life.
To be honest, I find it cause even for CELEBRATION; as to be able to experience all the above physical manifestations show that I'm still very much capable of moving freely, exercising independently, and most importantly, more ALIVE than dead!
So, yes, I earnestly do thank GOD for all the above as well as all the other blessings in my life!
And of course, with age, comes along some experience and insights (which some may call wisdom).
So hopefully, the following lessons that I'm about to share with you will help you too when you reach this stage of your life, or if you're already into your 50s like myself, or even beyond:
1) Don't Train As Though Age Doesn't Matter
- Because it does! Yes, age is just a number, but it still MATTERS - regardless of what some may say!
So please don't train as though you're "Forever Young" and throw all logic, sense and caution to the wind.
Instead, learn to train smart and adopt appropriate age-specific workout protocols for the different stages in your life.
2) Never Neglect Mobility And Flexibility Work
- The closer we get to middle age and beyond, the more we need to work on our mobility and flexibility.
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
And a word of caution to those amongst us who continue to ignore and neglect mobility work and flexibility training at their own risk: because somewhere down the road, You WILL Pay The Price, like it or not, whether in increased incidence of injuries, diminished mobility, reduced range of motion or an overall decline in your quality of life!
3) Stick To The Basics And Fundamentals
- When it comes to fitness and exercising in your mid-life and beyond, please forget about all the fanciful moves, exotic stuff and other Hollywood fluff that you see on social media.
Cool, glamorous and sexy-looking exercise routines may be all the rage and the "in-thing" among the young and restless; but they are simply NOT what your body needs at this stage of your life!
4) Focus On Functionality
- As a middle-aged or older adult, it is also important to train functionally as opposed to training traditionally or in a more conventional manner (i.e. focusing on just a particular muscle group or targeting just one fitness component at a time).
Think of it this way: Nature has always intended our body to function as one Single Inter-Connected System. And functional training does exactly that for us - by utilizing large, multiple muscle groups, moving in multiple planes of motion - all at the same time!
Functional training also mimics the very movements and activities that we carry out in daily life, thereby having huge carry-over effects to our day-to-day activities, especially for the mid-life or older adult.
Think about your daily chores for a moment: stuff like lifting-up groceries from the ground, carrying-out the trash, getting in and out of a chair, climbing up stairs, or keeping up with your kids, teenagers or even grandchildren on the weekends.
All these only become more efficient and productive when we are functionally-fit!
In a nutshell, when we choose to train functionally, we're essentially choosing for ourselves real-world fitness - the type of fitness that truly matters to both you and me!
5) Prioritize Bodyweight Movements
Down the centuries, bodyweight training has been shown to be a time-tested, effective and exceptional way of getting into and staying in shape.
Whether your goal is to build strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility or balance, bodyweight exercises can get you there and MORE!
Personally, I have always loved working-out with my own body weight simply because it not only puts me in touch with my own body, it is also uncomplicated, free, and can be done practically anywhere, anytime!
On top of that, I love the fact that whenever I do bodyweight exercises, not only am I building a strong, fit and natural-looking body, I am also injury-proofing my joints, muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons down the road!
6) Add Variety
- As the saying goes, "Variety is the spice of life" and it certainly rings true when it comes to exercise choice and programming.
At this stage of our lives, to get the most possible health and fitness benefits, always aim to vary your exercise routine as much as possible.
Try out new physical activities and exercises from time-to-time, or try doing some cross-training on a regular basis. The basic idea is NOT to stick to only one form of exercise, but rather, to do something of everything!
Not only will doing this help to stave off exercise boredom, it will also help in preventing muscle imbalances, avoid overuse injuries, and save us from hitting a plateau in our fitness progress!
Just remember: the more varied your fitness routine, the better off you are in the long run!
7) Any Exercise Is Better Than No Exercise
Think you can't afford time to workout? Well, you're not alone.
The good news is that latest research has shown that even short bouts of impromptu physical activities are better than doing nothing at all.
And I'm pretty sure that most of us - if not all - can find these little pockets of time somewhere in our daily lives to fit in some incidental, on-the-spot workouts almost spontaneously.
For instance, for every 45-60 minutes being seated, do try to take a break, get up from your seat and do some simple dynamic stretches and calisthenics such as squats, push-ups etc. Likewise, try taking the stairs as much as possible whenever you're out and about.
Even everyday stuff like cleaning up around the house, walking the dog and tending to the garden all count as physical activities and add up greatly toward our exercise quota!
8) Don't Fret Over A Missed Workout
Life is unpredictable and life does indeed get in the way of our workouts sometimes.
Rather than get frustrated and annoyed at missing an exercise session (which I admit used to bother me pretty much in my younger days), I've since learned that the trick is simply to just let it go and then make it up along the way!
Always tell yourself: it's simply NOT worth being stressed-out over a missed workout. There will always be opportunities to get in another workout again!
Remember: stay cool, carry on, and get back on track as soon as you can!
9) Have Fun!
Like many, I have found that the gateway to exercise adherence and fitness success is having FUN!
Whether the fun elements are found in the exercise routine itself, or the exercise environment, or even the people exercising with you, having these elements of fun will go a long way in keeping you excited, in stimulating your senses and making you want to come back for more!
So, focus on having FUN even as you workout!
10) Just Do It!
Instead of spending so much time hemming and hawing, and coming up with a myriad of excuses to talk ourselves out of exercising, isn't it better for us to bite the bullet, take the cue from Nike and "Just DO it"?
In reality, there will NEVER be a 'perfect' day nor a 'perfect' time for exercising. There will always be other priorities and responsibilities in life for us to attend to.
However, if you truly like to enjoy the wide-ranging health and fitness benefits that comes along with regular exercise, you simply cannot afford NOT to exercise!
So the best thing to do is simply to take ACTION. And just do it!
Hopefully, the above random thoughts on fitness will spur you on to greater heights and positive outcomes in your life as you embark on your journey toward better health and fitness.
Till we touch base again, wishing you all the BEST in fitness and in life!