Richards: Best exercises for aging bodies (column)
Make It Count
The consequences of aging are numerous and disheartening. Each trip around the sun incrementally magnifies the gravitational challenges that humans must overcome to enjoy physical heartiness. At some point, mundane tasks can seem overwhelming and the golf ball just doesn’t seem to go as far. As a fitness professional who takes great pleasure in reducing the effects of gravity, I’ve compiled a few strategies that will serve you well through your golden years.
First, developing a baseline of movement health is absolutely critical for longevity. A few weeks ago I discussed the benefits of movement screening and why mobility is so important. Suffice to say, flexibility training is essential as we age. Above and beyond stretching, here’s what you need to know for impressive physical prowess.
The ability to maintain balance on one foot is paramount. Poor performance here is not necessarily because of a lack of balance, but rather a loss of muscle or nerve function that hinders integrity in this position.
Simply standing on one foot for several seconds is a great exercise that engages the deep hip stabilizers necessary for activities of daily living. Need a greater challenge? Try standing on one foot while lifting a kettlebell or dumbbell from the floor. Everyone seems to fail at this.
Strength specific exercises are a catch-22. We must lift heavy weights to promote a strength adaptation, yet heavy weights often threaten joint health of the lifter. What’s an appropriate compromise? Carrying heavy objects for time or distance.
The great news about loaded carries is the minimal joint strain they impart to the trainee; the big joints of the body don’t experience large ranges of motion, minimizing risk to the body.
Even during the initial lift-off, where the body experiences greater joint angles, it’s only one repetition. Injury isn’t a factor because of the minimal repetition range that limits fatigue, which is often the defining culprit of injury mechanism. To incorporate this activity, simply bend over with a flat back and lift a heavy sandbag, stack of books, dumbbells, kettlebells, your defiant child, whatever, and walk for a long time.
Lastly, consider maintaining as much get-up-and-go as possible. The options are endless here, but any activity that encourages quick movements will serve you well as you age. Simply standing up from a chair quickly and shuffling side-to-side as fast as possible will cause miracles. Jumping rope is great. Uphill sprinting will cause wrinkles to disappear. Simply, move very quickly a few days per week.
That’s all for now. Have a great week.
Ryan Richards is a fitness professional who has been keeping the Vail Valley strong for over a decade. You can find him at ryanrichards.com or 970-401-0720.