Study after study demonstrate that exercise is vital for staying healthy and avoiding chronic illness. Also, strong bodies and fit people continue to move and enjoy life for much longer.
BUT…many people who are getting back to exercising (or are trying to keep up with their exercise program during quarantine) are NOT doing some of the necessary things that will keep them injury free and able to get the most out of their work outs.
As people go through their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, their bodies are changing again as they start to lose some of their flexibility, discs wear and arthritis starts.
Here are ‘The 15 things you may NOT be doing that are keeping you from being fit into your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s”:
Not Getting Quality Sleep
If you’re not getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night, it could be one reason you are not seeing the results you would hope. Also, not sleeping well enough will slow your results, so stay away from alcohol and caffeine before bed and stay away from the blue light of your phone and tablet for the hour before bedtime.
A lack of sleep, also, weakens your immune system—and this is the worst thing you can do during quarantine.
2. Not Warming Up
Muscles need blood flowing to them so they have the energy and
power to exercise. Joints need to be well lubricated to allow them to continue to move without damaging them. By warming up, the blood will be in the muscles and the lubricating fluid will be in the joints.
Working out on cold muscles and joints are never fun, but with age, we are even more prone to wear to wear and tear which is increased by failing to warm up.
Warm ups should include a 5-10 minute walk or light bike ride. Just as important during quarantine is a good cool down period including stretching.
3. Not Knowing Your True Fitness Level
You want to use the extra time during Quarantine to get back exercising, but somehow you forget the months or years (at times decades) since the last time you worked out consistently, so you take a Zoom class or start working out with an exercise class online and you still think you’re 25 and work out like you used to. Because you think “still got it” and you may still be that athlete, but many times you aren’t that athlete anymore…
…Then you develop a new injury or ache and pain that causes you to stop exercising.
Gradually work your way back into that program and know your limits!
4. Not Protecting Your Spine
As we age, we progressively lose flexibility in our spine, so some exercises you learnt in gym class are no longer safe and may become more and more difficult.
Sit-ups are less useful, so switch to planks and a ball stability program.
5. Not Focusing on Flexibility
Flexible muscles and smooth resilient joints are essential for avoiding injuries from exercise, BUT as you age muscles lose elasticity (unfit muscles are even less flexible) and as joints age, they don’t move as smoothly as before.
Take the extra time during quarantine to stretch your muscles and make sure that your joints move well to avoid injuries to allow you to keep exercising and getting fit.
6. Not Incorporating Strength Training
As you get older, you start to lose vitamins and minerals which causes your bones to become weaker and smaller (Osteopenia or Osteoporosis) and you lose your strength and cardiovascular health declines…
…But you can fight back if you exercise.
Strength training has been shown to improve bone density and strength, boosts your metabolism and decreases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke and high blood pressure.
The combination of strength training with your normal cardio training can prevent all these issues and improve your fitness…what do you have to lose except a few pounds during Quarantine.
7. Not Using Proper Form When Lifting Weights
Many people start weight training or begin new exercises, but do not really know how to do the exercise (or think they are doing the exercise correct), but don’t really know the right way to do the exercise. Improper form causes injuries.
I recommend getting guidance on form by contacting a qualified professional to review the exercise form and prevent injuries (which makes you stop exercising). During quarantine, find a professional who will consult via online meetings.
8. Not Varying Your Exercises Enough
Repeating the same workouts over and over again will lead to diminishing returns, because there is no progression. So mix up your movements/exercises, adjust your rest times, and add time limits to sets are some ways to keep adding stimulus to the muscles.
9. Not Tailoring Workouts to Your Goals and Age
If you’re over 40, those crazy workouts where you perform one rep maxes, lift a tractor tire, or do all sorts of new exercises are still able to be done, but you may pay for it the next day with all sorts of aches and pains.
Instead, focus on medium weight, medium repetition exercises with large ranges of motion that include normal movements, such as kettlebells, yoga, barbell exercises, squats, and some martial arts. These exercises produce strength and flexibility that we all need to stay fit and injury-free
10. Not Listening to Your Body
If something doesn’t feel right, it’s an injury waiting to happen. People who just try to work through pain or things that just don’t feel right are doing damage to joints and muscles that will stop the exercise program.
It’s OK to have some soreness the day after, but if it “hurts” and doesn’t get better, it’s time to look for some help. The days of “no pain, no gain”, “just lift through it (the hair of the dog)” or “just walk it off” are over—find some help. Even during Quarantine, there are ways to get help—start with a phone call, have a virtual visit, or do an in-office visit (if you feel comfortable).
11. Not Knowing the Difference Between Good and Bad Pain
Good Pain: Burning pain in the muscles during the workout or muscles soreness for the next day or two following a workout (in the muscles that you used) are ok.
Bad Pain: Sharp consistent pain in a muscle or joint with activity, constant pain that lasts a couple days after a workout, and pain that starts in the muscle you worked then goes elsewhere are all bad.
If you train smartly, you’ll stay away from the bad pain and avoid the injuries that set back your training for weeks or months.
12. Not Taking Days Off
Your body needs rest from the daily pounding of life and workouts. Even professional athletes average at least one day off a week. 40 and 50-year olds may want to increase that to 2-3 days.
Doing some leisure exercise if you wish, spending some time stretching, and taking walks will re-energizer you for the week ahead and give you the focus for the upcoming workouts.
It’s OK to work out every day, if you don’t have pain, but remember that tires muscles lead to injury. So, give yourself adequate rest time to rest and recover.
13. Not Fueling Your Body With Nutrients for Repair
It’s a must that you re-fuel your body after a workout. Take in both carbohydrates and protein immediately after a workout to kick start your body’s recovery process.
Don’t wait too long to eat after your workout or deprive yourself of food to try to stay fit and healthy. Use the right balance of whole grains, proteins, vegetables and fruits to keep you energized and strong.
Be sure to get the right nutrients from food, supplements and protein powders to keep your immune system thriving during Quarantine!
14. Not Exercising Enough Because Your “Too Busy”
The limits on our time are HUGE! Demands on your time by Kids, spouse, friends, hobbies, Work, and aging parents are conspiring to steal your fitness time. But you have to make it happen. Here are some great tips:
Exercise early in the morning before people can need you or the weight of the day can steal your energy.
Make exercise a necessary part of your daily routine—discipline yourself to not be able to sit in your work chair until you’ve exercise or “no TV until after the exercise session.
Exercise with your family to combine quality time with family with your exercise program.
Exercise with a buddy, get a coach or online class to create accountability.
15. Not Seeing a Physical Therapist Enough
Finally, there is a faster way to end pain and allow you to progress your exercise program by consulting an expert Physical Therapist who specializes in getting active adults back to their workouts.
A specialist physical therapist can even improve your work out and help you keep exercising and get more fit.
SO there you have “The 15 things you may NOT be doing that are keeping you from being fit into your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s”. These 15 are by no means an exhaustive list, but are a great place to start. If you start with these, you will be well on your way to getting (and staying) fit without injuries and progressing.