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Getting and Staying Fit After 50

Whether you are approaching the big FIVE ZERO or you are already well into your fifties, getting and staying fit after 50 takes a different approach.  As we age, needs change, goals change, and your body changes.

Most people over the age of 40 have at least one injury in their history, have begun to lose muscle mass that is critical for longevity, and don’t recover the way they used to.  Despite all these changes, most fitness and nutrition programs are written by 19 year olds, for 19 year olds.  It’s no shock that poor results and further injury are so common.

Since we aren’t little kids anymore, how about a different approach?  While the need to move your body and eat well is universal regardless of age, How you do these things will be different based on your individual situation.

The 5 Pillars of Getting and Staying Fit After 50:

Strength train 2-3 days per week.  Only the strong survive.  Lifting helps maintain the neurotransmitters that coordinate balance.  Much of “aging” is actually simply a loss of functional strength in the fundamental movement patterns, joint mobility, and ultimately, life mobility. Without strength training, it’s very difficult to maintain bone density.

So what should it look like?  This program should be custom written for you.  That is the only way to fully account for your starting point, goals, and any restrictions you have.  I am a fan of something called “linear periodization” which is just fancy talk for a logically progressive program that grows with you.  One workout logically flows into the next.  One logically flows into the next.  One phase logically flows into the next, etc.  This is a lot more systematic than the random stuff everyday format that is so common.

I do not recommend HIIT style training even if it gets marketed as strength training.  By doing random exercises for random intervals, you don’t have the chance to get good at anything so you don’t get progressively stronger in a systematic way.  The fast paced, high impact nature of that format is also ripe ground for an injury.

Walk every day (or do something else to move your body every day).  Walking is an ideal active recovery to do between strength training days.  You’ll burn extra fat, improve cardiovascular function, circulation, balance, and a nice walk really clears your head.  Hitting 10k steps is a reasonable goal.  At the end of the day, if you walk or otherwise move your body at least an hour per day, you are telling your body not to be stagnant.

Hydrate and eat well.  If you are 50+ you have seen every dumb cleanse, crash diet, health shake, weight loss pill, or gimmick known to man.  There literally isn’t a trick left in the book you haven’t seen 4 different versions of.  At 50+ you also typically aren’t in the mood to be a nutritional extremist.

Here’s another dirty little secret: great nutrition does not need to be complicated or extreme.  Control your intake of alcohol, refined sugar, and processed foods.  Focus on eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.  Once you improve the quality of what you eat, you can eat to satisfaction while dropping excess fat or maintaining a healthy weight.  Drink at least 70oz of water per day and you will feel amazing!

Stay pain free.  As we age, the bumps, bruises, and tweaks of life start to stack up.  Even if you are engaging in intelligent strength training that is written for your ability levels, there are still plenty of other sources of pain or injury.  Even relatively active people still sit too much.  You can slip on some ice, sleep weird, move some awkward items, or just overdo it playing pickleball.

We do a bad job dealing with injuries and joint pain in this country.  When it happens, we tend to take a pill to manage the symptom and then stop all physical activity.  Rather than figure out the source of the injury, continue working around the restriction, and ultimately getting fitter and less prone to injury, we sit, lose precious muscle, get more out of shape, and end up in more chronic pain.  Stop the madness!

The key is upkeep and that is where physical therapy comes in.  It could be a little time with their shockwave machine or it could be finally fixing that bad shoulder that’s been holding you back for years.  Either way, Carrie and her team at CJ Physical Therapy have you covered.

We are doing a LIVE masterclass on Tuesday October 24th from 6-7:30pm.  Register HERE for this FREE event!

Serving Portsmouth, Kittery, and the broader Seacoast community, we help people finally get in shape, feel confident, and have all day energy, even if getting everything done is a constant struggle.

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