Age shouldn’t play a factor in your fitness level, and you are never too old to regain your fitness. Whether you are 20 or 70, there is a place for exercise and activity in your life. As Marjorie Jaffe, owner of Back in Shape, says, “Age alone must not dictate one’s participation in life. We all have an emotional, mental, and spiritual life to keep us engaged.”
In fact, fitness becomes more important with age. One study showed that there was a significant difference in the results of a fitness test between young elderly men (60-69 years) and old elderly men (70-80 years). The differences were due to the aging process, which showed “a reduction of muscle strength in both upper and lower limbs and changes in body-fat percentage, flexibility, agility, and endurance.”
If you’re looking to regain your fitness, here are some tips on how to do so safely and effectively.
Make sure you have the green light.
Before you embark on your new fitness journey, be sure that your doctor gives you the green light to work out. While exercise is beneficial to your physical and mental health, it’s important to address any possible medical concerns with your doctor first. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to exercise, but you may have to be wary of certain issues and make adjustments as necessary. It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t rush into a routine expecting to be able to do what you could when you were 20 or 30. As you get older, different areas of concern start to emerge. It’s important to address these as you regain your fitness. “Evaluate your concerns, and determine the best approach to solving your issues—whether it be balance or stiffness or weakness,” Jaffe recommends.
Going too fast too soon is one of the reasons why people abandon their fitness goals early. Take it one step at a time to allow your body to steadily adjust to these changes.
You also want to ease into it to prevent the risk of injury. “Only do the exercises that feel comfortable,” Jaffe says. “The ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy doesn’t work for seniors. We wouldn’t all wear the same size and shape dress, so how can we expect to all do the same exercises?”
Do the exercises you enjoy.
Everyone has different activities they enjoy, so what works for your friend may not work for you. It’s great to try different exercises and give everything a go at least once, but don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like. It’ll only make you more reluctant to exercise, and you’ll end up putting it off or giving up altogether.
Instead, find something that makes you excited to work out. This may be doing bodyweight exercises while watching the telly in the comfort of your own home, strength training with a motivating personal trainer, or tai chi in the park to improve your balance and center yourself. Finding an activity you look forward to will help you work on and regain your fitness consistently. Just remember, “Exercise must fit your body, feel comfortable, and show results,” Jaffe says.
Establish a routine.
Much like anyone looking to regain their fitness, a regimen is fundamental in sticking with it. By establishing a routine, you slowly make exercise an integral component of your daily life. Working out is much more effective when it’s consistent, and you’ll be able to progress faster.
Just like other generations, seniors should exercise daily. “Do some stretching and strengthening every day and understand your body, so you can bring these new habits with you throughout the day,” Jaffe says. This includes “standing straighter, sitting better, [and] feeling more balanced.”
There are plenty of fitness classes and other older adults looking to get fit, so take advantage! “Go to a class for seniors, or if you have enough money, hire a personal trainer so you can learn to train your own body after a few weeks,” Jaffe suggests. Otherwise, you can download a great workout app (such as Aaptiv!) and connect with like-minded people who can make getting fit a lot more fun.
Don’t let your age stop you. Anyone, including older adults, can regain their fitness no matter where they are in life.