Tuesday, July 30, 2013
When you compare folks who participate in regularly scheduled physical activities, with their classmates who don’t exercise at all or very little, you usually can quickly see there is a very distinct difference between the two groups. The difference can be as subtle as simply how well the active folks move and complete everyday tasks, or as dramatic as an actual perception that they appear to be 10-20 years younger (posture, skin and muscle tone, balance, walking stride, brighter eyes, etc) than their less active peers.
On top of those very positive benefits, researchers are now convinced that getting into motion (no matter your age) carries many more very real life-enhancing and extending benefits. It has now been determined that exercise not only helps lower high blood pressure, but also reduces high cholesterol levels. Moving more also reduces your risk of getting (and even reversing type-2) diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.
There’s also great news that rather than making things worse, when done properly, exercise will reduce and sometime eliminate aches and pains attributed to arthritis and other joint issues. Folks who are active tend to sleep much better and process foods more easily. And for those concerned about other possible consequences of aging, the research is telling us that becoming more active may even prevent, postpone, or even possibly reverse the onset of symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease!
When I talk about “exercise” what I really mean is getting into the cycle of simply moving more than you currently do, which will help you become stronger and allow you to move even more. This is the total opposite of what we see in so many cases today, where folks get into the negative cycle of moving less and less, spiraling into dependency on mobility assists like canes, walkers, and eventually wheel chairs. I’ve worked with folks over the years that were well into their senior years, burdened with all sorts of health and structural issues that were able to “reverse the clock” and regain much of the independence they thought they had lost forever.
Of course when most folks think about “exercise” they immediately get visions of having to throw heavy weights around, intimidating pieces of fitness (torture) equipment, running on endless treadmills until they’re ready to drop, and expect to experience so much soreness the next day they will be unable to move!
That’s not the kind of “exercise” that I recommend for most folks, especially those who have allowed themselves to really get out of shape and are just wanting to regain some of their “lost youth”. What I am suggesting is getting more active than you currently are by starting simply and safely.
Many folks like the idea of joining a fitness center with Certified Personal Trainers that are qualified to analyze where the new exerciser is physically starting from, help them plan out activities to help reverse the individual issues that they face, and then teach them how to accomplish the activities with confidence, effectively, and safely on their own. Some Personal Trainers specialize their focus on helping those who are new to fitness, and those coming to fitness with health, pain, balance, and structural issues.
If a fitness center is not currently in your budget or within your comfort zone, you may want to try a few things just to help get back into motion on your own:
(1) A really great place to start is for every hour you sit, get up and spend 10 minutes moving around…dusting, watering plants, dancing (or if at work, make some phone calls or filing while standing, or visit a co-worker rather than text or email them).
(2) To help create daily goals for moving more, purchase an inexpensive “pedometer” which is a little device you clip on your waistband that counts your steps during the day, working your way up over time to around 10,000 steps per day (sedentary folks will average walking about 2,000 steps a day, though honestly many folks nowadays get nowhere near that many). (You can pick up a pedometer at most sporting good stores or chain department store for $10-$20). It’s a good way to challenge yourself to get a little more active each day.
(3) Then for regaining some lost strength and endurance, work on the movements and activities you are beginning to find challenging such as getting out of chairs or cars, climbing stairs, carrying items such as groceries. Most folks are really surprised at how quickly they regain those “lost” abilities!
Honestly, in the 8 years I’ve been doing personal training I have yet to meet anyone who, with a moderate amount of self-commitment, was not able to increase their strength, reduce health issues and pain, and get more enjoyment out of their lives no matter their physical age!
Remember to always check with your Doctor before beginning or restarting any fitness type activities!
Bobby Morrow is a certified personal trainer with over 8 years in the fitness field and his main focus is on those new to fitness, and those with health issues and physical challenges.
This article was printed in The Dispatch newspaper, Lexington, North Carolina