In the fifteen years of being a personal trainer, one of the most frequent questions that I am asked is what exercise should I do now I’m in my 40’s or 50’s etc ? In actual fact your chronological age has little to do with what exercise is most appropriate for you.
Sure as we age our bodies under ago a number of changes:
- From age 28 we start to lose our bone density unless we do weight bearing exercise at least 3 times a week.
- We get a decrease in muscle mass and strength of up to 20%.
- We lose elasticity in our tendons and ligaments which leads to loss of joint mobility.
- Our reflexes become slower.
- Our metabolic rate decreases by 3% every 10 or so years.
- We get a decrease in lung capacity and our maximum heart rate decreases by between 20 and 30%
So in simple terms we get weaker, fatter, slower and less fit and as we age. It’s not all doom and gloom. There are many simple strategies that we can put in place to slow the rate of ageing down and if you think about the unhealthiest and unfitest 60 years old you know and then compare them to the healthiest and fittest 60 year old you know there’s living proof.
In your twenties you can almost eat and drink what you like without consequence as long as you are not a total couch potato. However if you continue this lifestyle during your thirties you will start to see the ‘roof grow over the tool box’ and you will move into the next size of clothing or two and generally feel tired and lacking in energy and think that this is just what happens went you head towards forty. You will notice that you don’t bound up the stairs and feel exhausted after vacuuming the house or washing the car.
If this lifestyle continues into your forties and fifties you will most likely find yourself presenting to your doctor with the warning signs of high blood pressure and cholesterol or pre diabetic and as well as prescribing your with medication they will be suggesting you make some permanent changes to your lifestyle. And as we know preventative health is far easier than reactive health measures.
So what can you do to slow the ageing process down? For many years we thought that aerobic exercise ‘huff and puff’ was the best form of exercise, recent research demonstrates very clearly that resistance exercise or using weights is far more effective for the following reasons.
- Using weights that are appropriate for you is three times more effective at controlling your blood sugar levels than ‘puff and huff’ exercise.
- Using weights 2 to 3 times a week will maintain both your bone density and muscle mass for much longer and then slow the rate of loss.
- Using weights 3 times as week has the same effect as a low dose of anti-depressants.
There is however still some need to do puff and huff exercise and this is why circuit type exercise ‘kills 2 birds with 1 stone’, because your body receives the benefits for the weights and the puff and puff exercise.
The third component that is important to our physical activity program is flexibility. If you have noticed that putting your shoes on in the morning or getting out of the car is more of a challenge that’s a sign that your need to stretch on a more regular basis. As we age our hips are the first part of our body to become stiff and hence need the most stretching.
Which exercise is best for you will depend mostly on how much you have put in the bank during your 30 and 40’s. It’s best to talk to a registered and accredited Fitness Professional to determine your needs, so you can progress at your rate and slow the ageing process down and avoid a cocktail of medications during your sixties.
Written by Amanda Coombe, Personal Best Fitness, Amanda is considered a national expert in lifestyle coaching and personal training having 5 times been a finalist in the Australian Personal Trainer of the Year award. She is the founder of Personal Best Fitness, Tasmania’s Fitness Business of the Year and is recognized as a leader in corporate health programs. Her corporate clients include Nyrstar, Tasmanian Collection Services, RACT, Hydro Tasmania, Norske Skog, Parliament House, Tasmanian Audit Office, SEMF and Tasmanian Fire Service.