Welcome to the third and final fitness-related installment of our Transform You 2020 series! Click here if you missed our most recent fitness post. Today’s article focuses on maintaining health and fitness as we age.

Over the past few years, I have had hundreds of people 50 years and older fill out our short application to learn more about our small group training program.

I have called every single applicant. One of the questions I ask is, “what are you currently doing for exercise?”

At least 80% of the time, they say “walking”.

Some might disagree with me, but walking is NOT exercise.

In the NYT best selling book Younger Next Year, they define exercise as something that gets the heart rate up high enough so a normal conversation is unable to continue.

Walking is AWESOME and we should all do more of it. Any movement is better than sitting on our butts. So I am not knocking it.

But, if we want to age and function at a high level, we MUST do more.

We MUST focus on strengthening the muscles, which will lessen our risk of falling and allow us to continue things like hiking, biking and playing ball with our grandkids. It will also strengthen the bones, lessening the chances of osteoporosis.

We MUST get our heart rate to higher levels to increase circulation of our blood, strengthen the walls of the heart and give us those “feel good” hormones.

We MUST focus on core stabilization exercises that will keep our spine safe and upright and generate power for things like tennis and golf.

We MUST focus on proprioceptive (definition below in the PPS) exercises that teach our body to balance and recover from near falls.

You see, walking won’t do much of any of this.

Now, if you are extremely overweight and walking gets you breathing hard, then it IS exercise, and please do it. Fast walking up a hill would be another example that could be considered exercise for most. I know when I power walk up a steep hill, I am out of breath.

The challenge when we age is to find things that get the heart rate up without putting knees and other joints in a high impact state. This is why we love to do things like rowing, bikes, skiergs, battle ropes, and step ups as great low impact tools in our Fit Over Fifty classes.

Whatever your age, I want to encourage you to make sure you have all the above components in your workout routine.

And above all else, please keep moving! As we age, we start to lose more and more muscle mass each year, which lowers our metabolism and makes it more difficult to do the things that we want to do. Exercise–and strength training in particular–is the ONLY way to counter this trend.

With muscle and aging, it really is true that you must use it or lose it. The good news is that even if you’ve lost it, you can turn things around and regain much of what you’ve lost through smart training.

If you are over 50, and near Madison, and looking for small group training with top-notch trainers that specialize in this, we have a class for you. Please fill out the contact us form on this website and we’ll get in touch with you ASAP.

If you aren’t local, I encourage you to find something like the programs that we offer that is near you. Or start playing pickle ball, golf, or some other sport or activity that you enjoy. Find some friends to get moving with you.

However you do it, just keep moving. 😉

PS. One of my favorite quotes that I came up with for my clients is: “Train hard now so that when you are out and about in the world things will become so much easier.”

PPS. Proprioception: The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Even if a person is blindfolded, he or she knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body. (from MedicineNet.com)

Finally, stay tuned as next week we’ll tackle environment/community, which is absolutely critical to the ability to make lasting change.