We’re always hearing about the importance of exercise for remaining healthy. Being a good doobie, I wear a Fitbit daily, go to the gym on a regular basis and squeeze in Tai Chi classes whenever possible. But as I have aged it’s become very obvious that the days of strenuous aerobics classes, lifting heavy weights and going full speed ahead on the elliptical…are gone for me. Any attempt to pretend that I can still do what I used to do physically is always met with a resounding “Seriously??” from my body. No, my endurance is less what it used to be. My recovery time is twice what it used to be. And on some days my get-up-and-go has simply gone-and-went. Time to rethink this exercise thing!
But what to do?
Wanting to remain healthy despite the above “limitations”, I began researching appropriate exercise guidelines for older adults, especially women. Doctors – and many trainers – I spoke to seemed to have limited knowledge in this area. Their advice ranged from “Do what you feel like doing!” to “Strength training three days a week and cardio everyday – no exceptions!” Ok. But what kind of strength training? How much cardio? Which exercises are best for ME? (Especially with hypertension?) I had to find an answer.
I turned to Google and learned that there really is a lot out there about exercise and aging…some of it actually based on sound research and very helpful!
Here are five conclusions I’ve reached:
1. It’s time to accept that I can no longer do at 70 what I used to do at 60, 50 or 40… So what if I can lift only 5 pound weights 10x on some days? Or that it takes more time to recover between exercise sessions? Or that I don’t always achieve 10,000 steps? At least I’m doing something.
2. I’ve done lots of research and found there’s actually an awful lot out there about exercise and aging. I’ve discovered safe online exercise programs, such as Doug Schrift’s Elder Gym (www.Eldergym.com), and multiple books such Dr. Karl Knopf’s “CORE Strength for 50+” and “Weights for 50+. These offer great “at home” exercises and routines.
3. For now, I love going to the gym. Besides offering opportunities for physical activity, it provides fun social interactions as well as accountability. I splurged on a trainer this year and love her! She pushes me but is flexible and listens to my feedback. And sessions are only 25 minutes!
4. Tracking devices are wonderful. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve delayed bedtime in order to get in those last few hundred steps to reach 10,000!
5. It’s all about balance. When there’s a choice between exercising and spending time with an old friend…well, all’s I’m sayin’…