New year is coming, resolutions of course arrive at the same time.
Exercise is top of the list, losing weight, healthier etc etc. Fitness over 40 becomes more and more top of mind.
Gyms are busiest in first few weeks of the year, then a huge drop off. I see so many folks in my age bracket at the gym putting in the effort, but I can’t help but thinking they are feeling a little lost. There does not seem to be a plan, or the plan is flawed (I see what they are doing).
Here is what must you include in order to start feeling and moving better and kick the resolution off to a good start (with a chance to succeed):
Do something daily or program in place that will allow them to feel progress.
In middle age (age 40-60 years old)
1. 5 minutes a day of mobility, core and basic body weight exercises. This time allows you to clear the mind and work on your mobility, strength and soft tissues. Foam rolling, some yoga style movements does the job here. 5 minutes in morning or mid day or evening…whatever works. It makes a big difference. Daily routine, even for a small time, is the common denominator with anyone who has mastered a healthy lifestyle. Start with 5 minutes!
2. Incorporate movement into your routine. Biggest reason we feel stiff and slow and immobile as we age is we don’t move enough. Skipping, shuffling, backpedal even in small spaces and slowly (if just starting) will help a ton (and quickly). If you walk, walk some backwards, side shuffle and mix it up!
3. High intensity intervals at least 2x per week. There is a reason it is the #1 trend in fitness for 2018 (According to ACSM link here), it gets results. High intensity refers to small bursts of activity followed by rest of a set time interval. How much effort is high intensity? That is relative (no, not just heart rate). It is an effort that makes it hard to carry a conversation, more than you are used to. Just starting? Walk to corner fast, then slower for twice the time it takes. Then repeat. Build up 2/3 times per week.
More advanced exerciser: any activity you can repeat a higher than usual effort followed by rest qualifies. Start with 15 seconds effort, 30 seconds rest. Cycling, elliptical, walking on incline or locomotor movements all qualify.
Make sure you feel comfortable with the activity before going harder than usual.
One of the main draw backs to HIIT is going too fast too soon with too much impact on your joints. (example: sprinting before progressions will lead to injuries).
If you have not exercised in years, get a check up from your doctor and start small.
4. Recovery time. Biggest change I found at 50 vs younger, is it takes longer to recover from bursts of activity. Lots of water, foam rolling, yoga movements (refer to #1 above), some steady state cardio at low pace all help. Recovery time does not mean sitting on the couch necessarily! Active recovery is good.
5. Clean eating. Especially around the holidays, eat as clean as possible. Take the supplements you are supposed to, get your veggies and protein daily and don’t eat processed foods. That affords you a few cheat meals/days during the festive season.
Simple, yet not easy!
Start today. 5 minutes. your first step to Middle Age Strong!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu