Do you have great things planned for your second half of life? Having said that, do you find yourself working around added aches and pains? Are you making changes to your exercise program based on aging realities? I know I phased out kickboxing, high impact aerobics, and snowboarding based on ever worsening knee arthritis. (More at the end of the post on what’s about to happen with my knee in less than a week. Not a sob story, but some solutions so keep reading). Yet I don’t want to give up my beloved step classes. Nor do I want any more injuries, limitations, or bad body mechanics.
Once we hit midlife, we need to create workouts that take into account principles that are targeted to our specific needs. Principles that inhibit bad body habits and encourage physical comfort and ability. Exercise design principles that I’ll be sharing with you in a short series. Using even one of these principles will bring you to better, long term, wiser workouts. And you’ll catapult yourself to the insider, fitness pro mindset.
This post shares the second of six principles for creating outstanding workouts for baby boomers. Initially, I put together this list in a a cover feature for the leading fitness professional journal. Then I realized you active agers might want this helpful info as well. To take advantage of the first principle go here:
More than any other age group, we midlife and older exercisers appreciate and need functional movement.
Many definitions exist for functional movement, so let’s start with wikipedia’s: “Functional movements are based on real-world situational biomechanics. They usually involve multi-planar, multi-joint movements which place demand on the body’s core musculature and innervation.” Come back. Don’t let me lose you. In simple terms — choose exercises that involve several muscles and joints all-in-one.
Another common way to define functional exercise is to ascertain whether you can apply a given move to activities of daily living (ADLs). What moves do you perform in real life? Train for those. For example, do you need to get up and down from the ground? Do you pick up groceries from the floor and turn to put them away in an overhead cabinet? Contrast this to single joint, isolated strength and muscular endurance training such as calf raises or triceps kickbacks. Instead, for example, perform an exercise that lifts a free weight left to right with rotation from low to high/ floor to overhead. Or perform squats that mimic ducking sideways under a rope or bar.
Like me, are you a boomer who is more interested in continuing activities you enjoy rather than worry about hypertrophy? Are you motivated to gain strength, power, and endurance so you can travel, take up new hobbies, keep up with grown children and grandchildren? If you value having energy over having a six-pack you are part of a trend. A majority of midlife exercisers are looking at their parents and making decisions about their own aging. We want to retain our physical and mental capabilities to the same or greater degree than our parents – and why not? Even more critical – let’s make sure fitness habits that might have worked in our youth aren’t causing pain in our middle years.If you're more interested in continuing activities you enjoy rather than solely hypertrophy, read this Click To Tweet
Will the exercises you choose help you climb steps, get up and down from chairs and the floor, prevent falls, turn to see behind you while driving? Do your moves help you continue surfing, hiking, camping? Think in terms of adding rotation, level changes (low to high and high to low), or working in opposition. Approach your workout design with the idea to help keep your world from shrinking. What are you worried about having to give up? What do you enjoy doing that you’d love to continue as long as possible? Train from that perspective and you will have better results and fewer physical challenges.
Speaking of physical challenges, I am heading into knee replacement surgery in a few days. Dealing with arthritic keen pain is one thing. Seeing my function diminish significantly these past months is another. Part of my surgery prep plan involved:
First I finally learned what TENS stands for: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. I knew medical professionals for years have used TENS to treat pain. Now reliable, affordable products are becoming available for use at home. So home I went jiggity jog, packing heat. Without the jog. And with more than heat!
The Omron HEAT Pain Pro combines TENS and heat to help alleviate chronic pain and aching muscles. Warms and zaps all in one. Omron is calling my number on this one. Number TENS. (Insert laugh track here). My muscles and joints have made too many compensations serving the demands of my curmudgeonly knee. This new device was easy to use and did relieve muscle tension. It didn’t eradicate my osteoarthritis. Ok, that might have been asking too much. Maybe Omron will come out with a TWENTIES or FIFTIES device to handle that big of a job.
Anyway, my point is that this lightweight, portable device helped reduce muscle tension. Between teaching my fitness classes despite increasing knee pain (not recommended), walking my dogs every day, and wanting to enter surgery as relaxed as possible, I’ll take all the help I can get!
Alexandra also tried the Omron HEAT Pain Pro, and found it definitely decreased some of the stiffness and discomfort from her knee replacement surgery. Even though the surgery was back in June, 2016, she still has some occasional swelling and stiffness after hard workouts. After undergoing electrical stimulation during physical therapy that could be quite uncomfortable, Alexandra was expecting this to be the same. Luckily, she discovered that the TENS was fairly mild. Her favorite setting is Combo 2- short session of alternating heat and TENS. She offers one suggestion: make the heat setting just a bit warmer. Overall, Alexandra was pleased with the pain relief that the HEAT Pain Pro provided to her knee.
There you have it. Ready to stick on the Omron device, reduce pain, plus create the best baby boomer workouts ever? Me too, right after knee surgery. See you on the other side.
ACTION: Usually we suggest you subscribe if you have not yet done so. This time we hope you click on the Omron link to check out whether the unit might help you. No aches, pains, or tension involved when you window shop.
Do you like to stay ahead of the curve? I mean besides the ones on our baby boomer, midlife bodies? Then hold tight as we zoom through some of the key takeaways and quotables from the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention. Alexandra and I just returned from the main industry event that draws fitness professionals from around the globe. By attending many sessions focused on the over fifty crowd (Wheee! that’s most of us), I gleaned some relevant Fun Fit Facts, exercise trends, and plain ole’ good quotes.
Now to lay some of those fitness pro insights on you, so you can revel in the workout fun that lies ahead. Or more specifically, get your trending fitness quotes now while they’re hot!
Speaking of standing up, presenter Tomi Toles asked attendees at his “Walking Tall” session: “What muscles and structures do we walk from?” Most of us fell right into his trap — “Why, we walk from the legs, doncha know.” Wrong! After watching a video of a man with no legs “walk” on his ischial tuberosities (google it), we could see that great gait really comes from the abdominal wall muscles and spine. Want to be a better walker AND tone your abs at the same time? Check out our post on achieving great gait.
Come to my group fitness classes and look for our upcoming package of moves for “Fitness Over 50” if you want to try what we learned.
And that is it for quotes that “Inspire, Connect, and Transform” from the first day at IDEA. Subscribe, open your emails from us, and keep reading if you wonder how Day Two and Three managed to surpass the quality that was Day One. Coming soon to a blog near you. Near and dear, we hope.
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Readers: Which is your favorite fitness quote? One of the above? One to share from elsewhere? Let us know in the comments below.
How good is your functional balance control? You can find out in under 2 minutes. You can also discover which of your three balancing systems is strongest.
I had fun trying the balance assessment below when I attended the first Functional Aging Summit in Phoenix this past week. Day one of the conference was dedicated to learning how to maximize physical function for the over 50 exerciser. In order to know what to progress, we first need to establish baselines. It’s the ole’ “you don’t know where to go until you know where you are” approach. Ergo — Time to tackle fitness assessments that measure functional abilities such as static balance, dynamic strength, and dynamic balance. (What exactly is “functional fitness”? Click to our post with the answer once you have read this one).
My fun gets to be your fun. Try the following test which assesses your ability to maintain static balance when one or more sensory systems are inhibited. Stand on both legs with your arms against your sides. Perform each of the four conditions for 30 seconds with someone else timing you and keeping an eye out in case you fall or need a hand. Stop the test if you:
Before you begin, let’s define a few terms so you know which of your balance senses are fine and dandy or need development.
Ok, now to find out which of these three senses are your best friends, and which (if any) need better buddying up. Ready, set, time yourself!
– you are using your visual, somatosensory, and vestibular systems.
– you have pulled out your visual system, and are using just the vestibular and somatosensory systems.
(stand on a foam pad or BOSU ball, for example) – you are dependent on your visual and vestibular systems in this case.
(again using a foam pad or BOSU ball) – you are relying on the vestibular system alone.
How many seconds were you able to last for each condition? Under which conditions did you have troubles?
I’ll tell you who aced these tests when we tried them at the Functional Aging Summit — my new pal and inspiration, Marliene, an 80 year old teacher/ trainer from northern California. Not only did she have amazing balance and get to 30 seconds for all four conditions, but also she beat me in the Sit to Stand assessment test. I managed only 19 ups and downs to her 20, which put her above the 90 percentile for her age group and me in the 75% for mine. She is THE example of what active aging and functional training can do for a person. Yeah, I wish I had taken her picture, but we were too busy learning cool, functional exercises.
Side (plank) note: I just became the first fitness pro in my county to achieve the Functional Aging Specialist certification. You can read about it here on noozhawk.
The write up means I have a chance to be as incredible as Marliene one day — IF I put all my functional training knowledge into action! How about you?
Take the balance test. Record your results. Which of your balance senses were strongest? Weakest? Let us know in the comments below.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
PS If you want to assess your leg strength, then check out this companion post, How Strong is Your Lower Body?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Therefore we are embarking on a course culminating in us becoming certified Functional Aging Specialists. Hard to make that certification sound sexaaaay, but it is! And you may increase your sexy sass too if you take our advice based on what we learn. This credential is designed to be the “ultimate mark of distinction for fitness professionals” wanting to work with the over 50
gang, crowd, party people! The goal of the curriculum is to maximize physical function for mature adults. We already know how to handle immature adults. Ah ha ha aha.
You may be asking “What is Functional Training and how is it different from traditional workouts?” Um, you were asking, right? Just say “yes.”
Functional fitness trains your body for the activities of daily life. Another way to think of it is focusing your exercise efforts on Movement, NOT Muscles. How does your workout translate to making your work, hobbies, daily tasks, leisure activities, and occupation easier, better, and more comfortable?
Bicep curls, triceps extensions, and bicycle crunches certainly have a place in the exercise world. But as we age, moves that allow us to maintain (maybe expand?) our physical capabilities become more relevant. Enticing even! We’re talking Quality of Life here, Boom Chicka Boomers and cohorts! Let’s avoid “boomeritis” and move in ways that support the life we’d like to become accustomed to. Can you step over big obstacles on the ground, for example?
Is National Celebrity Status as Baby Boomer Fitness Pros Too Much to Ask?
We energetically share that we want to be the IT girls when you think of fitness and baby boomers. Nationally, globally, intergalactically.: K and A = top fitness sources for over 50 active aging advice pros. Please wish us luck and good study habits as we launch into the 18 module program that has a timed test and a spiffy looking piece of paper with a gold stamp on it at the end. The certification program — offered by Drs. Cody Sipe and Dan Ritchie of the Functional Aging Institute (FAI) — takes up to 6 months to complete. Since we are overachievers who make the top 10ish percent possible, we plan to finish in halfish that time. (Read our About Us page if you want to peel back the curtain on our other qualifications).
Are You Joining Us As We Go From Special to Specialized?
Functional fitness fanatics (and the FAI) declare that If you move better, you feel better. And when you feel better, you look better. And, Daaaahlinks, You Look Marvelous! Or you will when we’re finished with you … and our certification program! Yup, we are going from being Special to Specialized Functional Aging Pros and you are coming with us. Right?
PS Comment below if you know whom we are paraphrasing about looking Maah-vah-lous! Reveal your true midlife status.