You can create workout routines that are perfect for your baby boomer body armed with any of 6 exercise design principles. This post is the last in a 5 part series on creating the best workouts possible for the over 50 exerciser. (You will find links to Parts 1-4 at the end of this post).
Apply insider strategies professional fitness leaders use to give yourself the gift of life-enhancing fitness programs that are low risk, yet high reward. Let’s maintain function and expand, not shrink our world as we exercise.
We boomers — born between 1946-1964 — want to enjoy the second half of life actively, comfortably, and energetically. Yet we have five to seven decades of accumulated aches and pains. Do joint issues limit your ability to do certain activities? I know knee arthritis has forced me to make numerous activity changes, especially this past decade. Years of sitting, driving — of living life in front of our bodies — may have produced forward head misalignment, rounded shoulders, hunched posture, overly stretched or weak backs. While not elderly, frail, nor sedentary, we boomers are probably feeling the effects of the passing years.
Which brings us to the final program design principle in this series. In some ways you could argue that I saved the best for last. Yup, All About Abs!
Another, more technical way to word that is:
Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches. While the traditional crunch has its place and value, the last thing we 50-70 year olds need is more forward rounding. Nor is a 6-pack a primary goal for us. Instead, perform moves that keep your head on the mat or that have very little opportunity to forward flex the neck.Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches Click To Tweet
Work with, not against the anatomical reality of the abs: the Rectus Abdominis, Transversus, and Obliques are endurance, compression, and posture muscles. They are not designed for power (in contrast with the glutes and quads, which are power muscles, for example). Therefore emphasize postural, endurance and compression aspects of the abs. You may especially appreciate improving posture as you strengthen your core.
How many of us baby boomers already have forward head thrust, tight necks, rounded shoulders? Probably most, if you are typical older adults. When selecting abs exercises, simply ask yourself whether a given move exacerbates the above problems, is neutral, or counteracts them. The last option is ideal.
A few primary examples of suitable compression abs moves for boomers are planks and the reverse curl or reverse curl with an oblique rotation (bringing the right hip towards the left ribcage, for instance).
Another great option is the “Marching Abs” move where the upper body stays on the mat throughout. Legs are bent at 90 degrees at the knees; hips are fairly open with the feet close to the ground. You march the feet, holding the knee angle constant, alternating right and left foot marches. Depending on core strength and back issues, you may decide to march the feet from the ground to about a foot from the ground — the most challenging version. If you have trouble maintaining great form or have difficulty maintaining alignment, march in space. Draw your knees closer to your chest, close down some of the hip angle, and march with your feet anywhere from one to two feet from the ground.
Truth bomb — Ab exercises alone won’t work to whittle any waistline fat. You probably already know that spot reducing is a myth. However, having a stronger core, better posture, and less back pain are all yours when you add abs to your workout program. Especially the kinds of core and abs exercises we’ve been talking about that minimize neck flexion and maximize the way your body performs and feels (versus simply how it looks). Do check out what our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 offers. For one, you’ll get a LOT of great examples of moves that suit older adults and don’t depend on zillions of crunches. For you visual and kinesthetic learners, the program offers 23 videos of ab exercises as well.
To get to the whole kit and kaboodle of the “Create the Best Workouts” blog post series, click on the links below that take you to Parts 1-4, Principles 1-5. You can go in any order really.
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Kymberly Willliams-Evans, MA
Not gonna lie. I am so OVER discomfort in my own body given my recent total knee replacement. However I am grateful that I have not been in much pain since my surgery several weeks ago. In fact I was able to come off pain meds while still in the hospital. While I attribute my nearly pain-free recovery to eating well and exercising regularly, one other unusual and surprising reason comes into play. Any guesses what allowed me to skip (ok limp and hobble) past pain and straight to its lesser cousin, discomfort? Hint – fur and bad breath are involved.
Apparently having a pet, especially a dog reduces pain in owners. Don’t have a dog? Well go get a furever friend aka “pain reducer” from your local shelter. Or not, as even non-owners can reap the benefits of interacting with a dog according to this study from Pain Medicine.
In my case, the desire to resume walking my dogs daily continues to be a big motivator to do my #^*$&(@#$ physical therapy. I admit that the whimpering coming from my house is NOT my animals. (Flex, extend, hold. Gaaaahh!!)Are there more overweight dogs, cats, or people in the US? #PurinaPartner Click To Tweet
Between therapy, dog walks, and working to get back to step, indoor cycling, and low impact aerobics classes, I had the fortune to attend a live chat on pet health and active aging. Hosted by Dr. Kurt Venator, a vet and fellow dog lover who works for Purina, he shared two Fido Fit Facts that caught my attention:
Do you consider exercise a pain in the keester? Then isn’t this good news that you might actually like exercise just by adding fur and four legs?Want less pain, especially post surgery? Get a pet or at least pet one #PurinaPartner Click To Tweet
Yes, pets can improve our comfort, health, and happiness in many ways, including:
Bow wow WOW to all those benefits! Dr. Kurt did NOT mention increasing guilt if I don’t walk my dogs. He did comment on the fact that he and Purina are committed to the health and well-being of pets and their owners so both pets and humans can live bigger, healthier, tail-waggier lives together. (By the way, this post is sponsored by Purina. My dogs are sponsored by my husband and me until they can find employment.) To be entertained and uplifted even more, read Midlife Fitness and Health Lessons from my Dog.
If it weren’t for my pup pups, I can guarantee I would not have donned a raincoat, iced my knee, and set out in yesterday’s rain for a 40 minute walk. Pleading, trusting eyes are the ultimate motivators to move. Sure, we all came home wet. But I was pain free afterwards. Dog chow and treats all around! Uh, just the latter for me, of course.
Eager for you and your pets to be smarter as well as healthier? Chase this link:
ACTION: Get more scoop on ways you can improve your health and the health of your pet when you check out both this nifty infographic and run over to purina.com. Seriously, the infographic is worth taking a look at.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly: Your timing on the timing aspect couldn’t be timelier as we just read a concise wrap-up of factors that help people stay consistent with a workout program. The absolute BEST time is when you will actually go. You derive benefits from exercise whether it’s o’dark thirty or too damn early o’clock. However, people who exercise early in the day tend to be more consistent and therefore more successful. The early bird gets the burn!
Alexandra: If you’re a procrastinator, I’d recommend morning as the best time to work out. That way you will be done with your exercise, and can focus on putting off all the other stuff you should be doing! Some of my university students sign up to work out later in the day simply because they don’t want to wake up early! Of course, by “early” they mean “before lunch.” So the best time for them is different than for most other age groups.
K: In short, the statistical reality is that human nature kicks in (sometimes even before the endorphin rush!). This plays out as those who put exercise later in the day tend to keep pushing it off…until it’s the next day. Then the next. Those who schedule exercise first thing simply adhere better.
As for me, I love to exercise in the evening when I can watch tv guilt-free as I pedal along on my indoor cycle. But then, I teach morning classes, so I’d say for me, the BEST time is when I am paid to work out and people are counting on me to show up. Yup– that is my favorite time!When is the best time to work out? Click To Tweet
A: Sort of related, but not exactly (meaning: “not much really, but I just want to put it out there”) is that one trait people who have lost weight and managed to keep it off for at least 1 year have in common is that they eat breakfast. It didn’t matter what time of day they worked out, yet it did matter whether or not they ate breakfast (Wing & Phelan, 2005).
Here’s the secret, no matter what time zone you’re in or if you put your workout where the sun does or doesn’t shine, Be Consistent!
K: Like F and F twins, great questions often come in pairs, so allow us to answer “what’s the BEST cardio activity?” while we’re at it. Click to find out.
Dear Readers: When do you work out and why?
ACTION: Now is the best time to subscribe, especially if you want the best tips to work out your bodacious baby boomer bod.
Photo Credits: Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Is living longer one of your goals? I can hear you now: “Only if those added years are quality ones that I enjoy in good health.” I hear ya; I feel ya. Who wants extra time that is devoid of fun, interest, and good relationships? Pffftt to that.
Did you know walking can prolong your life? And the more steps you take, the more years you add to your life. We’re talking good years (statistically speaking, of course. I certainly can’t predict your future, though you sure can heavily influence yours).
Now if you are already thinking ahead, you might be trying to trap me with this bold assertion. “Saaay, Kymberly. What if I start walking and walking heaps and tons. Will I gain immortality?” Yeah, walking also adds brain power. True fun fit fact.Walking can prolong your life - by how much? Click To Tweet
Let’s go with what a study out of Aussieland says: When 2500+ middle-aged Australians increased their daily pedometer steps from a sedentary level to 10,000 steps per day, they reduced their mortality risk by 40%. In short, walk more = live longer.
What if racking up 10,000 steps a day is too daunting or unrealistic for you, yet you still think living longer sounds tempting? Add just 3000 steps per day and you’ll reduce risk of a premature death by 12%. Can you devote the equivalent of walking 1.5 miles or for 30 minutes daily in order to add years to your life?
Another benefit? Just 30 minutes a day of walking reduces your heart attack risk as much as a high-intensity exercise program. For those of us over 50 with joints that rebel at high intensity activities this is good news indeed.
There you are living extra years thanks to your 30 minutes per day walking. But why not also become more fit altogether? Read “Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination” if you are keen to lose weight, maintain your current weight, or simply improve your health. Also check out “Walk to Lose Weight and Gain Fitness.” Your goal will help determine your walking regimen.
Walking is pretty darn safe and low risk. But let’s say you get so motivated to live longer and increase your fitness level that you overdo it. If you get sore muscles or joints (or want to prevent injury and soreness in the first place) then follow our suggestions in these three posts:
Or you could walk with amazing form and professional level technique if you take into consideration 7 Easy Steps to Walk Better. Exactly — you can avoid injury, stiffness, and muscle aches in the first place if you practice “Great Gait.”The more steps you take, the more years you add to your life. How many steps? How many years? Click To Tweet
Personally I love walking daily, especially as my dogs turn their sad eyes on me if I try to skip a day. This past month however, the term “walker” took on a new meaning for me. Instead of the word defining me as someone who ambulated daily, it referred to the walker I had to use post total knee replacement surgery. Ever try to sneak up on someone when rockin’ a walker? Clunk drag clunk drag. But it helped me get those vital steps in the first week after surgery. Now in week three post “new knee” surgery, I have graduated from the walker to crutches and finally to no assistance as of two days ago.Like never before, I appreciate the joy and life enhancing aspects of simple walking. With my new knee and the evidence on living longer via walking, I plan to go forever and ever and ever and ……….
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA