Fitness for Fun


December 16, 2009

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Health & Fitness

mountainsmExercising regularly? Are you doing the right exercises suited to your body? Is the thought of exercising regularly becoming frustrating and tedious? How about Fitness for Fun? A balanced exercise routine along with cardio activity and a healthy diet is so important for your long term health and it doesn’t have to be a chore.

First, let’s talk about what happens to muscles as we age.
Muscle mass decreases as we age. Beginning in the fourth decade of life, adults lose 3%-5% of muscle mass per decade, and the decline increases to 1%-2% per year after age 50. Muscle keeps us strong, it burns calories and helps us maintain our weight, and it contributes to balance and bone strength. Without it, we can lose our independence and our mobility.

Is my body past the phase of muscle building?
Muscle mass can increase at any age if exercised properly. In an important study of weight lifting and older adults conducted with 100 male and female residents of a nursing home in Boston (age range: 72 to 98 years of age; average age 87), subjects lifted weights with their legs three times a week for 10 weeks. At the end of the study, there was an increase in thigh mass of 2.7%, walking speed increased 12%, and leg strength increased a whopping 113%! In a similar study of adults 65-79 years old, subjects who lifted weights three times a week for three months increased their walking endurance by 38% (from 25 minutes to 34 minutes) without substantial increases in mass.

These are the areas and ideas that you should focus on:

Flexibility and Agility Exercises: This improves your body’s flexibility, range of motion and increases your metabolism. This helps you maintain a strong body structure and helps prevent more serious injuries like sprains and strains.

Relaxation: Helps reduce stress and lower your blood pressure and anxiety.

Eating Healthy: A properly combined diet is imperative to good health. Having a little “snack” here and there is part of life, but it should not overtake our whole eating regime. Eating well and maintaining proper eating habits is the biggest factor in keeping a healthy weight.
Strength training exercises: Increases your overall body strength, builds more muscle and improves your bone density. To explain further, I have listed some examples in these areas with more detail so you can see what may work and be appropriate for you and your schedule.

Yoga: Yoga has become so popular in our society because of its total heath benefits. Researchers have found that regular practice led to reduced back pain; improved sleep, better sense of wellness, improvement in heart health, reduction of rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes; and greater overall physical fitness. There are many types and levels of yoga. Find the one that works best for you!

Water Aerobics: Water aerobics is an excellent way to stay fit and in shape. All the areas mentioned above are compiled into this form of exercise; Cardio, Strength training and flexibility training. This can be done anywhere there is water, anytime of the year; in a pool, a lake, or an ocean. Alone or with a group of people together for a class, it’s a great way to get started in an exercise routine if you are just getting out there.

Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a series of traditional Chinese movements that help increase stamina, flexibility, reduce stress and clear your mind. The gentle exercises really focus on your inner being and knowing your body and getting you to become aware of who you are. Tai chi does not promote any joint or muscle strain, therefore it suits anyone who is in rehabilitation or suffering from any illness.

Dancing: Now who doesn’t love to dance? And anyone can do it. If you are in need of assistance of a wheelchair, or having difficulty with any sort of movement, you can still get up and dance. It’s all about what is in your heart. Music is one of the best means of therapy. Dancing is fun and exciting and you can do it solo or in a group. Ballroom dancing is fun, classy really gets you moving. Or how about a simple get together with a group of like minded people who just want to be with one another and share some old classical tunes. As the saying goes, “Dancers don’t stop dancing when they grow old; dancers grow old when they stop dancing.”

Weight Training: When you think of strength training, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The heavy weights, dealing with and the loud music, does this sound about right? The fitness centers and gyms have changed drastically since those “muscle head” days. There is new equipment like resistance bands, exercise balls, specific routines to attain your goals or just wanting to feel good and stay in shape. There are also areas to work with for rehabilitation issues such as sprains and strains. If your choice is not to join a gym, there are many other centers that offer the same type of programs without the extra expense. Senior Centers have programs, YMCA’s or YWCA’s and so on. All you have to do is get up and get out!

Now I’m sure you get the idea! Just get up and do it! It’s not all just about the physical activity, but the the fun and socialization aspect of it all. Get out there, walk, talk and join clubs, groups and be yourself and HAVE FUN! Because this is really what it is all about!

Before starting any type or new exercise program, please be sure to check with your doctor. Now get out there and have a great time, make Fitness for Fun and meet new people. Live your life to the fullest, you deserve it!!!

Nicole Gruendl, Life and Success Coach



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