They say with age comes wisdom. But not always… Sometimes age shows up by itself…
What I mean is that sometimes we get so distracted with living our daily lives. In the seemingly endless cycle from office to home and home to office, we tend to forget important truths. The kind of truths that preserve momentum and positive living. The kind that are simple and loaded with common sense. Truths like, if you want to be able to do more for others, you have to be willing to make more out of yourself.
Before we realize it, time (a lot of time) has passed, we’re well over forty and we’ve forgotten all the things that once kept our spirits young, our minds sharp, and our bodies strong. I don’t want that to happen to me or you. So I figured I would lay out a reminder of the importance of health and fitness – particularly as we age – and would lay out a list of the best tricks for getting fit and living a long and healthy (and wisdom preserving) life well beyond midlife. Here they are:
Get With The Program A program that will best suit you, that is. It’s important that you find a fitness routine that you can commit to. In the long run, I find that those people who find exercise activities they enjoy end up doing them for a lifetime. But remember that every one of us is different. Some of us may have medical concerns that limit our choices or may require physicians release and/or the assistance of a qualified personal trainer to make sure that the fitness program will not hurt you. The important point however, is that we all need to move regardless of our physical condition. It’s what our bodies were made for. But having a fitness program that is not a good “fit” for you, will only cause you frustration and injuries.
Live With Reality Can you see how setting your mind into reshaping your body in month could leave you frustrated and failing to reach your goal? Yet millions of people make that mistake daily. When you choose to make a change for the better, it’s best that the changes you make be sustainable and realistic. If you’re over forty and just survived a heart attack, there is no amount of training or nutrition that will permit you to run a marathon four weeks later. That’s the reality…
However, I have personally trained a client who survived a major heart attack and managed to completely reverse the damage by consistently adhering to a practical and ‘realistic’ fitness program. It can be done, but not before taking a true inventory of what you are currently physically capable of and proceeding with an appropriate program and timeline.
Make a Muscle You’re not a wimp; you’re just over forty! Getting older doesn’t mean getting weaker. Even a ninety year old can improve strength and grow muscle mass. This is why resistance training (exercising with weights) is so important. It works the parts of your body where muscles live. When you develop muscles, you gain physical strength, burn more calories, improve cholesterol and hormone levels, and reduce your body fat. Add multi-joint exercises and not only will you get all those benefits, but you will have reduced your workout time, too!.
Be Methodical There is a system to working on your health and fitness. The body, like life itself, is constantly adapting to whatever demand is placed on it. Sometimes life is difficult, sometimes it’s a breeze. You should strive for variance in your exercise and fitness programming, too.
Repeating the same sets of exercises, the same way and with the same weight without getting your muscles to work harder and in different directions will eventually bore you into quitting altogether. Record your daily workout and make progression and changes based on your previous data. This log will also serve to motivate you and give you confidence as written proof of your successful accomplishments.
Be Flexible You say it’s raining today and you can’t take your 20-minute walk? Change your plans and spend that time stretching, or doing yoga instead. Every successful exercise program should have variety. You can even be proactive with your changes; a walking program this month, weight training next, yoga the following month, etc. That will serve to keep you interested, motivated and looking forward to what’s coming down the road for you.
Compete Only with Yourself The truth is: every “body” is different. What works for one, may not work for another. Remember this when you are looking for reasons to improve and progress on your fitness journey. While healthy competition is nice, you are not like anybody else. Don’t hold yourself to their standards – but do hold true to yours.
Control the direction of your health and fitness and take ownership of where it is taking you. Are you really only able to do one abdominal crunch or are you simply wimping out? Can you really cliff dive or are you trying to re-live those younger glory days at the beach? These are questions only you can answer.
Having personal experience, I know that not all programs work for all types of people. There is no workout that is a best fit for everyone. But make no mistake – you do need to exercise.
Exercise a lot, or exercise a little – you decide how much will work for you at this moment given your particular circumstances. Just don’t grow older without it. You may find yourself feeling a little less “wise” if you do.