It doesn’t take a gym membership, running a mile a day, or spending an hour on the treadmill in your living room to stay active. You can do this in just a few minutes every day. In fact, you may already be doing it and you just don’t know it. If not, then you can start NOW!!
It’s not too late to get back into shape, or at least stay mobile, so you can be free to enjoy your retirement. God said, “Men are that they might have joy.” And He wasn’t just referring to “men” but to “mankind,” ALL of us. Young, old, male, female, etc.
And more to the point, let’s find out just how much FUN it can be to stay mobile. Let’s find out just how to find JOY in life through More Moderate Movement, shall we?
Are you over the age of 50, and thinking about starting a workout routine? Maybe you’re apprehensive, thinking that today’s workout “fads” are for youngsters, or that you’re not ready physically to workout? Which begs the question – how do you expect to live a long fulfilling life if your heart, bones, and muscles are functioning in an under-serviced 50% efficiency mode?
There’s always hope; and it’s NEVER too late to start working out and get fit – even beyond your younger days.
Not convinced? Keep reading to learn why it’s never too late to start! Here are just a few of the numerous benefits for seniors to start, and maintain, a program of movement.
You’re More Likely To Die Of A Fall Than Exercise
Yes, you read that right; exercise won’t kill you as long as you’re smart about it. In fact, a fall occurring because of poor flexibility, and weak bones and muscles is much more likely to kill you, or leave you with a serious injury. The best way to prevent this? Regular exercise.
Fitness Is the Enemy Of Disease
Healthy and fit seniors worry less about chronic disease than those who have let their health decline. Diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure can be prevented or at least better controlled with a preemptive exercise plan. Seniors with the best cardiovascular health profiles regularly exercise, and have good eating habits.
Have you been told that you’re a “grumpy old man/lady?” it’s likely because you don’t have a healthy outlet for stress relief. Exercise takes so many forms and there’s no one mold that fits all personalities.
Don’t like lifting weights? That’s fine, do yoga.
Don’t want to, or can’t run? No problem, you can walk.
Is walking too boring? Try dancing! YES, dancing!
Any kind: ballroom, salsa, line, square, or even disco…
And if dancing is out of the question, then swimming is a solid form of cardio exercise, which is good for heart health AND is low-impact on joints like knees and ankles.
Or, try some other low impact sports, like bowling, shuffleboard, badminton, fishing, etc. Join a league when you find one you enjoy and that doesn’t hurt too much to do regularly. This will amplify the effects, as the committment will motivate you to be persistent and consistent, and it will enhance your social connectivity, thereby feeding your emotional and mental health as well as your physical health.
Whatever you try, make sure that you enjoy it, and it will become the best thing for you, physically, mentally and emotionally. You will also sleep better, and have less aches and pains, definitely more reasons to smile and enjoy life!
The Golden Years Can Be The Best
You’ve worked hard in your younger days – had to pay off a mortgage, put the kids through college and ensure everyone was well clothed and fed. Maybe time was limited; or maybe money was an issue. Whatever it was, now it’s time for YOU. Your many responsibilities have probably been lifted, or at least lightened, so now there’s a lot of time to spend with your spouse doing nothing. NOT!
So, why not go hiking, or bike riding, join a gym, take long walks, go dancing, or take a Pilates or yoga class to get in some fun workouts while boosting quality time spent with your spouse or a workout partner. Fitness doesn’t have to be hard; above all, it needs to be enjoyable and not forced.
Maybe you have a friend who appears to have aged 10 years in just 2 years. It happens all too often, mainly because of not caring for their body when they were young, or not actively trying to get fit.
Before morbidity comes knocking on your front door (being resigned to the bed) make some lifestyle changes NOW.
If you’re a woman, menopause doesn’t have to be as miserable as it is often portrayed, because exercise can alleviate hot flashes, mood swings and the associated smorgasbords of pain. Your body will thank you, you will feel better and consequently look better.
You Don’t Have To Go Hard
No one has ever said that exercise has to be gut wrenching to be effective, simply pace yourself and keep progressing.
If you’re planning a walk today for the first time in decades, start small – take a short walk around your block. Do it every day if possible, and after a week walk around twice. Following this method of progression adds up over time, and leads to higher levels of fitness.
Have you run out of excuses yet? (Sorry, bad pun, I know, I just couldn’t help myself.)
Because every minute you spend at home worrying about “starting,” there’s another person who just got serious about making positive changes in their life, and in one short year they’ll be miles ahead of you (sorry again, I can’t help myself).
The time is now; enjoy your new found fitness!
“What gets measured, gets managed,” Peter Drucker.
There are many ways we can monitor our fitness and this is essential for a number of reasons.
For most people the biggest benefit they will get from monitoring their fitness will be the encouragement they will get from seeing progress from their efforts. There is nothing more inspiring for someone trying to lose weight than to get on the scales and find that they have shed several pounds since the last time they were weighed. Or to notice how much looser their clothes are fitting these days. Or to have someone at work, at church or in the store ask you, “Have you been losing weight? You look like you have.”
Or for a bodybuilder to measure their muscles and find that they have gained an inch or two here or there. This measured progress can increase energy levels more than a bucket full of vitamins.
The mind is a powerful tool in fitness training, and so feeding it positive information that can actually be measured will ensure continued enthusiasm for maintaining a fitness program.
One thing that everyone should be aware of, however, is to leave sufficient time between progress measurements to ensure that the body has had time to make some progress. It’s not a good policy to weight yourself everyday, as there will be fluctuations where you could appear to gain weight slightly from one day to the next.
It’s also not good to measure your muscles every day either as they take time to grow and big increases will not be seen overnight. This can be discouraging if you’re constantly looking for measures of progress and not getting them soon enough.
Sometimes measurements can be deceiving, as with resistance training and weight loss.
While we are burning fat with a resistance training program we will also be building muscle, so although the weight might not be changing when we stand on the scales, the fat to muscle ratio might have changed quite considerably and our body might be leaner, yet still weigh the same.
This is where taking photos of our body once a month will often be a better gauge of progress and offer an alternative measure of our success. It’s also where measurements of our Body Mass Index (BMI) can be important.
The point here is that you cannot quantify improvements in your physical activities without measuring and recording them. If it’s steps, hours dancing, minutes on an exercise machine, or miles run or walked, the goal is to start out doing as much as you can and keeping it going long enough to make it a habit, with the ultimate goal of improving your stamina (and overall fitness level) over time.
Pencil and Paper
Nothing beats good, ol’ fashioned pencil and paper for economy and longevity. Electronic gizmos are good for the techno-generations, and they certainly do more than the P&P versions, but they can also have some drawbacks, as I have learned the hard way. Digital storage media formats change so rapidly that we have to ensure we are keeping our records in a format that will still exist in ten years, five years, or even NEXT year, if we want to preserve them for the next generation. Paper and pencil have stood the test of time, far beyond ink pens, floppy discs (remember those?), etc.
Are you already keeping a regular journal of your activities, thoughts, ideas, inspirations, poems or novels in the works? If so, then it’s an easy step to add you fitness and health improvement progress to the list, either in the same document or a separate tome. It’s truly within your power and preference to decide. Just as long as your decision doesn’t delay the start of your program.
Electronic Fitness Monitors (Dick Tracy, eat your heart out)
The technological advances in this area over just the past decade are remarkable. Whereas prior to the turn of the century, fitness technology was centered around gyms, being primarily contained in their various kinds of exercising equipment, the more advanced of which were linked to computers which aided customers and trainers in keeping track of our activities. They even assisted us in developing fitness programs tailored to our personal characteristics and goals.
At that time the most portable technology was the lowly pedometer, mutating from a mechanical to an electronic monitoring device, limited mostly to tracking the number of steps we walked. The most advanced blood pressure monitors were mainly found on tables, or at our bedside, requiring the user to don a cuff and sit still while it inflated, deflated and then reported the results. Otherwise we were forced to visit our doctor or sit in a chair at the pharmacy. Not the height of convenience in either case.
With the meteoric assent of smart phone technology, and it’s migration from our pocket to our wrist, taking the form of the smart watch, the aforementioned monitoring functions have finally become not only use friendly, but they have been joined by a host of other functions designed to help us monitor our own health status in real time.
Some monitors can even design a specific workout program for you. This would mean that it can determine how much effort you should exert, how fast, how long and how hard you should work out in order to meet your targeted program.
Another unique feature is its capability to count the number of calories burned during the whole exercise time plus the capacity to estimate the percentage of fat burned.
The fitness monitor makes every second of exercise count with its ability to measure the highest peak wherein the body could have the most efficient workout. This feature prevents over-training and under-training that are both a waste of time and energy.
Some units also track your sleeping patterns, measure blood pressure, and some even have additional sensors to track your dissolved oxygen and blood sugar levels, going far the simple fitness monitors of yore and becoming a true total health monitor on your wrist, bundling numerous formerly separate devices into one convenient form.
But whether you decide to go the route of a paper diary, an electronic brain on your wrist, or something in between, the primary focus here is to track your progress from the status quo onto a path that will eventually take you to where (health-wise) you want to go.
No matter what form it takes, movement is critical to maintaining our mobility, our overall healthiness, and our mental acuity into retirement. And as we’ve shown, the more you enjoy it the more regularly you will DO it, and therefore the better your results will be.
Speaking of goals, do you have any? Well, now that you have assessed your current state of physical health, it’s time to decide, with some help, where you should be at this stage of your life, and where you WANT arrive at in some soon to be determined period of time. Yes, you should set not only goals for your weight, size, blood pressure, heart rate, etc., etc., etc., you should also set them for the activities we are going to use in the process. and apply a timeline to reaching them. Goals without a deadline are just dreams. We humans are too closely tied to Father Time as the arbiter and assessor of our progress. We need to have an end in sight in order to not procrastinate ourselves into the next life.
They should also be actionable – that is, they are measurable, achievable, realistic AND challenging to us.
There are numerous models of goals and how to make them more effective. One is the SMART system of setting goals with the following characteristics:
Another one is the GROW model, defined as:
One characteristic not included in either of these models is that your goal needs to be challenging, aka difficult. This was proposed by Edwin Locke in his extensive studies of motivation and goal setting over four decades, starting in the 1960’s. He determined that the most effective goals are both specific and difficult. So, in looking at the SMART model, we see that our goals must fall somewhere between achievable and difficult in order to more readily modify our performance. Goals that are TOO easy will not challenge us enough to result in any appreciable improvement in our status quo, whereas goals that prove TOO difficult will cause us to quit, give up, before achieving any measurable progress.
So whatever activity, or activities, you have chosen to maintain or increase your mobility, you need to set goals that will allow you to measure your progress toward greater mobility. Whether it be the number of steps, feet, yards or miles you walk, swim, cycle or run, or the duration of your activity in minutes, there needs to be some level toward which you will continue to work, with the potential for moving the mark on down the “road” as you become more and more mobile over time.
Whatever model or schema you choose, it’s been scientifically proven that having goals of some sort is by far the best way to ensure we make some kind of progress or improvement in whatever area of our life is in need. So, whether it be losing xx amount of weight, reducing your BMI to a specific lower number, lowering your blood pressure below a specific range, walking, swimming or running a mile, or dancing for an hour, whatever metric you choose needs to be specific and measurable. Otherwise it’s just another general desire or wish that will continue to go unfulfilled.
Now that we have our goals identified, at a time frame set for their achievement, we MUST break them down into actionable steps in order for our minds to work on ways to achieve them. One of the most effective ways to do that is to schedule our action steps with something to be worked on every day, even if it’s a Rest Stop in our journey to improvement.
Most people with whom I have discussed the idea have agreed that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and if it’s that important, then it also needs to be scheduled, even put on a calendar. Failing to do this simple thing will relegate our activities to the pile of unscheduled “stuff” we do everyday, making them highly susceptible to becoming OBE (overcome by events). We are creatures of habit, and to the same extent, creatures of procrastination. Why do now what I can put off till the next commercial, or after lunch, or after I get back from the store, or better yet, mañana (tomorrow).
In order to keep our own interest level up, and avoid falling into the rut of boredom, we should vary our activities frequently, spacing them out and alternating them from day to day. This has the additional benefit of allowing us to “exercise” different muscles each day, preventing our body and mind from adapting to a routine, the under-reported enemy of true progress.
That’s not to say we can’t do the same thing on the same day of the week every week, like yoga on Tuesday, swimming on Thursday, cycling on Wednesday, Salsa dancing on Friday, etc. That’s what we call “scheduling” after all. It just means that we should not do the same thing every day. Otherwise our body will adjust it’s operating frequency to compensate, thereby reducing the overall efficacy of our movements, and therefore also neutralizing the very performance improvement which we are seeking.
Now the means for setting and keeping your schedule of activities is up to you, whatever works best. For some, it’s a nice picture calendar on the kitchen bulletin board. For others it’s their planner notebook, or whiteboard on the wall. For still others it’s the calendar app on their computer, laptop, tablet and/or phone.
For the even slightly technologically savvy, Google makes this last one very easy, and free, by providing Google Calendar which we can access via any of those devices, from virtually anywhere. It even incorporates notifications and alarms to alert us with however much lead time we need. Apple products have a similar cross-device capability, although whereas Google apps will run on most Apple products, iOS apps generally won’t run on Android products. So once again it comes down to personal preference, there not being any wrong answer, other than NOT scheduling at all.
So although the means and methods are not important, the requirement is universally there: we need to schedule our movement activities to the greatest and most detailed extent possible. While that doesn’t mean we need to schedule every minute of every hour of every day, it does mean that we need to set aside sufficient time for our mobility activities every day in order to maximize our benefit and minimize our opportunities to forget or put off till “later” what we need to do today.
At some point in our lives, we may all succumb to the need for some kind of device to assist us in our daily travels. Whether it’s an elegant cobra-headed cane, or a walker with hand brakes and a seat, or an electric scooter, they are becoming more and more common everywhere we go: stores have electric scooters available near their doors for use while shopping, buses and trains have loading ramps for scooters and wheelchairs, and both canes and walkers are becoming a part of the scenery everywhere we go.
But for the grace of God…