As we age a few different things happen naturally. Our bone mass decreases as does our muscle mass and our aerobic capacity declines. The question isn’t whether this will occur but how quickly it will occur and what you can do about it today to improve your quality of life tomorrow.
I often ask clients which of the two possible scenarios they prefer. One, they live to 100 years but during the last 10 years they cannot care for themselves and must rely on family, aids, healthcare workers, etc. Or two, they only live to 85 years BUT they are fully capable and healthy right up until the day that they die suddenly in their sleep. I have never had anyone yet choose option #1. They always choose #2.
One of our primary goals is to maximize functional movement and positively affect aging so that clients can maintain great body function and quality of life.
Let’s compare 2 different people:
Kate is 65 years old. She came to us several years ago when she felt like she was getting weaker and was starting to notice that she couldn’t keep up to her grandkids like she wanted to. She had been walking, had great balance and was still able to get up and down off the floor with ease. When we asked her about her health and exercise history she told us that she had always been active on the farm with chores and horseback riding. About 5 years before, her son had taken over the farm and her and her husband had “retired” although they were still quite active with farm life. She didn’t like the atmosphere of the gym and wanted to be able to care for herself for the long term. Over the past 5 years she has integrated a walking program with other students at the studio, takes part in a mat class and includes a Reformer class once a week. Her mobility, flexibility strength, and aerobic capacity are fantastic and she’s managed to get off her blood pressure medication. She plays catch and gets down on the floor with her grandkids. Her future quality of life is well on track as she continues to move in ways that encourage her day to day movements to be easier.
Bernice is 55 years old. She recently came to us at her wits end. “My body is failing me and it feels like it’s falling apart since I turned 50”, she told me. Bernice hasn’t exercised in years. She’s a beautiful person who takes in foster kids and volunteers at several locations in the community. Unfortunately, she has been diagnosed with diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and placed on many pills to control these issues. Her knees give out on the stairs and she has a hernia that requires surgery but the doctor wants her to lose weight first. She is the first to admit that she hasn’t looked after herself and that she was too busy looking after the kids and others to even think about looking after herself. She’s taken the first step to helping herself by walking through our door and asking for help.
First, ask yourself if you are Kate or Bernice. When you know the answer then you are ready for your first step and to start setting your goals for the future.
So how do you improve your health as you age?
Start now! The perfect time to start will never be here. The kids will need your attention. There will be a big project due at work. A death in the family will side track you for longer. There will always be a reason not to start until your body gives you no other choice.
Move daily especially if you sit at a desk. Set an alarm on your phone and get up every hour. Walk to the bathroom. Get a glass of water. Bend down and touch your toes. Lean back over the back of your chair. Breathe!
Enlist the help of a friend. Walk, bike or swim together. Join a class. Find something you enjoy doing and get out there and do it!
Start walking. (If you can’t then see the next tip)
Find a trainer that understands functional training for older adults. Your needs are not the same as someone in their 20’s and neither are your goals.
Strength train functionally. What does this mean? Do exercises that mimic day to day life and that will strengthen your ability to continue to do them as you age.
Get up and down off the floor daily.
Remember to play and laugh often.
If you’re not sure where to start then give us a call. We specialize in post rehab, older adult training, functional training and Pilates. We’ll book you a consultation, assess your current health, perform a postural analysis and movement screen and design a program specific to your individual needs. Call us at 808-780-4144!