What are your dreams for aging gracefully? Do you believe that getting older has to hurt? I am a firm believer that age is just a number, and we are only as old as we act. The mantra for the over 50 human mover is not to get hurt. An injury is tough to recover from. So, remember to go slow at first be patient with progress and learn to master the basics and foundations first.
My name is Coach Paige and I’m a movement specialist at Premier Fitness Systems. I work with a range of clients from those wanting to build strength to prevent injuries, to others who have finished physical therapy and want to keep going. With multiple certifications I’ve been exposed to a lot of best practice in taking care of our bodies as we age. Below, I’ll share five things that I’ve heard consistently during my education and in industry journals on the importance of exercise as we get older. Movement can impact a lot of areas, including your central nervous system, the brain, heart disease and your hormones to name a few. I shed a little more light on what happens to these areas when we get moving. At the end of this article I invite you to consider reaching out to me and share what your exercise goals are.
- Restore your central nervous system by focusing on your breath. As you age, your brain and nervous system go through natural changes. Your brain and spinal cord lose nerve cells and weight (atrophy). Nerve cells may begin to pass messages more slowly than in the past. Waste products can collect in the brain tissue as nerve cells break down. Breakdown of nerves can affect your senses. You might have reduced or lost reflexes or sensation. This can lead to problems with movement and seemingly natural motor skills. This is why all of my clients are given specific breathing drills to help reset the nervous system and aid in the communication of brain signals to muscle tissues.
- Exercise and fitness is good for your brain! The growth of new brain cells continues well into your 50s and 60s — and the capacity to learn new things stays strong. MRIs show that adults who exercise regularly have a bigger hippocampus (the brain region responsible for memory and learning), which helps keep the mind sharp. I play games with tennis balls and other props at the gym that help with my client’s hand-eye coordination and motor learning skills. Games like these are fun and we often laugh at the silliness, which is beneficial to the brain as well since it releases endorphins.
- Joint health is just as crucial to maintaining muscle mass and reduced body fat. Arthritis is the most common type of joint problem in older people. It usually affects knees, hips, hands, spine, or sometimes shoulders. Aging and inactivity can lead to achy joints because of the wearing down of cartilage, the loss of lubricating joint fluid and weaker muscles. But that is where daily movement of these joints can help to reduce pain levels. Many of my clients say their goal is to be more flexible and regain balance. Focusing on the feet first can be a great start to achieving this. Your feet are the first thing to taking the next step and can often cause other issues in joints above the ankle. I believe this can be solved by making sure the big toe is working correctly. Mobility issues can lead to falls in elderly getting fractures, however with an excellent program that is tailored to your specific needs you can help to reduce or prevent this issue altogether.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people 65 or older. Many experts suggest that cardiovascular exercise cuts the risk. When you are moving quickly and start getting your heart rate to elevate this helps reduce the stiffness of the heart valves that typically occurs as a result of inactivity. But even more important is the research pointing to vigorous exercise. Getting the heart rate into a zone just above aerobic capacity causes lactate to form and is what helps produce strength and power. I love incorporating short bursts of strong movements for my clients so that we can push the heart rate zone higher. This in turn also gets people to sweat more profusely which helps utilize the lymphatic system. Stimulating the lymph is what allows us to release toxins and waste that our cells don’t need which again helps to slow the aging process.
- Hormones and aging: Resistance training or moving your body through its normal range of motion against a force like a weight or elastic band or even your own bodyweight is a natural way to promote testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) release in the body. Keeping testosterone and HGH plentiful will dramatically slow down the effects of aging.
If you’re healthy and active, you will likely get a lot more miles out of your ticker and keep aches and pains to a minimum. It’s never too late get started!
If you think you would be willing to stop by Premier Fitness Systems and share your story with me, I would love to listen and see if I can help. Call Coach Paige at (224) 938-2423 to set up your appointment.Learn More