I hate to say it, but we all age even if we don’t want to face it. Ive been working out for well over 27 years and like anything, things will wear down over time. But there are ways to lessen the severity and even slow down aging, primarily in the joints and tendons. Here are some points I’d like to share and suggest that will help you age better and continue to get good workouts as you train well into the golden years.
- Warm up thoroughly –
whether it’s a 5-10 minute warm up on a cardio machine, sled drags and pushes, or some mobility drills, its important to spend a few minutes on this crucial component of exercise. When the body is warm, you have lower chance of injury and improved mobility.
2) – Adapt to your body –
when we were younger we would jump to the cool exercises (ie. bench, squat, deadlift, military press, chins, dips, etc). Those are still good to do but it depends on your function-ability today. Depending on your joint health, any injuries, medical conditions (which may cause muscle and/or joint issues), mobility, etc we need to adapt to what our body allows us to do. For instance, if your shoulders are really tight and excessively internally rotated, you’re better off doing overhead tricep extensions or skull crushers over dips. If you don’t have the wrist mobility to do chin ups anymore, try doing neutral grip or pull-ups. If its too difficult, use a band for assistance or kneeling pull-ups off of a smith machine. Set up the bar to chest level or slightly above (depending on your strength).
3) Do the boring stuff –
taking care of our stabilizer muscles and joint health is crucial in living well and maintaining full range of motion when we walk, carry groceries, bend and stand, etc as we get older. Work on your psoas muscles and hip flexors to keep your gait strong and stride length long; use bands to open up the chest, work the external rotators and improve posture. You don’t want to get kyphosis in the upper back(excessive curvature of the upper back). Overtime that could lead to major problems where even looking straight in front of you can hurt.
4) Get your cardio in –
not only is it good for recovery and reducing muscle soreness, but its essential for heart health. It doesn’t have to be the long arduous and boring 45 minutes + sessions. Go for a short run after your workout, use battling ropes, do sled drags/pushes, get a skipping rope, go for a friendly bike ride with your kids, etc they all work. Try to find something you like and you’ll be more apt to do it.
5) Prioritize your nutrition & vitamins –
we all know the importance of eating a healthy diet, but as we get older it’s vital to limit foods that cause inflammation and irritation to our gastrointestinal and endocrine systems. Processed foods, sugar, too much saturated fat can all cause inflammation in our joints in addition to systemic, affecting our digestive and endocrine systems. Consider grilling, steaming, baking, or air-frying most of your foods. Incorporate a variety of vegetables and fruit in your diet to provide the nutrients to heal and keep your body operating optimally. Have your starchy carbohydrates around your most active part(s) of the day; ie before and after your workouts, before a run or long bike ride, when you’re about to go shopping on a Saturday afternoon.
Vitamins & minerals must be added to our diets. People think we can get enough from our nutrition, but that’s not the case. Its too hard to get all the micronutrients in from our diet when soil is depleted of nutrients and the amount we need cannot be consumed by food alone. The most important ones to include, in my opinion are: C, D, zinc, magnesium, omega 3 (unless you eat red fish 3-5x/week), B complex, collagen, glutamine, and a joint formula that has a mix of MSM, chondroitin, and glucosamine. In fact, collagen is essential for women in the perimenopause years and beyond. Studies show that women lose about 30%+ of collagen production in the first five years of menopause.
These are some gems to take with you on your journey to keep living a healthy and pain-free life. We can continue to train hard in the gym, we just need to train smarter, warm up longer, and leave the ego at the door.
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