Aging Gracefully Through Regular Exercise
“Should I stay or should I go?” from the song by The Clash and used on Choice Hotel commercials shows how I feel when I have to make the decision whether to watch my favorite T.V. show live or exercise? Sure I can always watch it online tomorrow, but I may be busy all day and the urge to watch the T.G.I.T cliff hangers is so strong and my chair is really comfy. I promise myself that I’ll work out longer tomorrow and sometimes I do, but now after shows air they aren’t gone forever and I really have no good reason to skip my walk. I doubt there’s a single Baby Boomer out there who hasn’t given into that reasoning.
Baby Boomers were once the Super Moms, activists, entrepreneurs and go-to people if you really needed something done. Then age discrimination or bad health forced a great number of us into retirement. Now we’ve more time to exercise, if we’re not still holding down a job, but we’re less motivated. We spent our careers on our feet taking care of patients, students, customers or other people. Even if we had a desk job, we had to get up to go to meetings and sales calls, since there was no teleconferencing. Very few people worked from home. If we did manual labor, like many of our parents, our bodies wore out and we now find ourselves parked in our easy chair with our computer on our lap, a smartphone on the end table and the T.V. tuned to our favorite show. We’re far less active than our parents were with only 35% of us exercising regularly. We think that we’re more active than we are, but a new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that people overestimate the amount of exercise they do by almost an hour a week, while underestimating the amount of time they spend sitting by nearly two hours a week.
Mackenzie Lobby Havey’s blog on http://blog.myfitnesspal.com stated that it takes 66 days to form a habit. Fitness experts call it the “transtheoretical model for change. Knowing where you are could help develop exercise habits to help you lead a healthier life. Where are you?
- Pre-contemplation Stage: You don’t exercise and have no plans to exercise in the near future.
- Contemplation: You’re thinking about starting to exercise.
- Preparation: You’ve made plans to exercise in the next 30 days.
- Action: You’ve begun to exercise regularly, but have been working out for less than six months.
- Maintenance: You’ve been exercising regularly for more than six months and it has become a part of your daily routine.
To make exercise a habit you must:
- Set goals. Studies show that when you’re focused on internal goals, like exercise enjoyment or an increase in energy, rather than external goals, such as physique or recognition from others, you’re more likely to persevere with your exercise routine.
- Reward yourself. Giving yourself a treat-a D.Q. for me-or buying a new piece of exercise equipment will keep you motivated if you lose 5 pounds. Celebrate small triumphs to keep up the momentum.
- Mix up your activities. Switching between activities reduces boredom and makes it more likely that you’ll stay with your program in the long run. Even walking in different locations can help.
- Track your progress. I use S Health on my Android to keep track of my activity level. Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, Tom Tom and several other companies have come out with devices with additional innovative options like a GPS and that keep track of sleep, smartphone notifications, heart rate and other facts.
- Recruit friends and family. If you’re lucky enough to find an exercise partner whose schedule and abilities match yours, they can be a great help in keeping you motivated. Group classes can do the same thing. Sometimes friends and family may not want you to succeed since they think weight loss will change you or they’re not having as much success. Seek out your cheer leaders.
Recent U.S. government guidelines recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily to prevent weight gain. For those of us who have lost weight, they recommend 60 to 90 minutes a day to keep the pounds off. “I think it’s a little excessive to expect 60 to 90 minutes — even if it is a healthy goal; I’m happy if I can get a patient to exercise 30 minutes three to five times a week. And in truth, mortality studies suggest that this really is adequate,” says Boyd Lyles, MD, medical director of the Heart Health and Wellness Center in Dallas, Texas. What’s more, according to Lyle, splitting those 30 workout minutes into three 10-minute or two 15-minute segments works just as well. Before exercising avoid foods that are high in fat or fiber which can upset your stomach, take longer to deliver energy, and leave you feeling sluggish.
According to an article by John Bozzalla in Baby Boomers News and other reputable sources, these exercise workouts work best for Baby Boomers.
Cardio is great because it improves blood flow, keeps your heart strong and gives your body a natural energy boost. Try and get 4 or 5 moderate cardio sessions in per week. Water aerobics, swimming, hiking, cycling, and even brisk walking are enough to keep you healthy and happy.
Core strength is the one area of physical training often taken for granted. A strong core protects your frame, improves your balance and posture and helps keep weight off. Perform crunches or sit ups on a stability ball for a really good core workout. If you’re feeling strong, deadlifts and squats are also ideal for maintaining a powerful midsection.
Leg, Arm and Back trouble is a common complaint, because we neglect those muscles and lose muscle mass. Over 600,000 Boomers have their knees replaced every year. Running may not be your friend anymore. Lunges are a great exercise for maintaining your legs, and strengthening the muscles that support your hips. Do some basic calf raises to make sure you maintain that spring in your step. Maintaining muscle mass is key when trying to ward off arthritis, rheumatism, and similar ailments. It’s all about balance and overall health. Keep your arms strong with a combination of curls, and light triceps pull downs. Back pain strikes the vast majority of Baby Boomers. Avoid it through yoga, Pilates, and basic stretching. You need the muscles to stay supple, not bulky. Stabilizing the muscles around your spine will keep you free of aches and improve balance.
If you’re a single Baby Boomer you’re probably living alone and can’t afford an injury from a fall. Exercise will keep your whole body healthy and keep you self-reliant. We all want that.
Exercising outdoors is wonderful during the crisp fall weather, but don’t let heat, rain, snow or ice keep you from sticking with your exercise routine. They’re other places to get in your walk such as malls, inside tracks, gyms or even at home with your Xbox, Wii, PS3 or treadmill. Make this your week to start a workout routine.
Next week we’ll discuss how preventive medicine helps us age gracefully. Join me here and on my Facebook Page, Single Boomer Life, for new links on many subjects of interest to us all.