A lot of people in their mid-forties and early fifties approach me with apprehension about their health and fitness status, broadening waistlines, excess kilos, blood pressure, joint pains; they want to start exercise but are apprehensive if it’s too late to begin. Here, I have to say: It’s never too late. Some of my most consistent and progressive clients are over 50. They believed in taking charge of their health and wellbeing and have made exercise an important part of their lifestyle and are today strong and energetic people.
The aging process, I believe, is something that is directly linked to your mind and to your attitude to life. You can use it as an impetus to work on and improve your health and quality of life. The choices you make the minute you decide to integrate exercise into your life will not only greatly improve your current health but also how well you do in the years ahead. Here are a few things to think about:
• Health benefits are huge at whatever age you decide to begin to exercise. Beyond your 40s, regular exercise helps preserve lean muscle mass and strength, improves balance and coordination and helps improve functional decline that comes with age.
• Choose a workout that you will enjoy. That way you are more likely to stay consistent. In the beginning it is advisable to go to a gym or fitness centre and consult with a professional certified trainer to guide you.
• Your exercise routine should be challenging, not painful. Discomfort or the feeling that you need to push yourself are good during a routine, pain is not. Set short and achievable goals and progress into more complex and intense routines eventually.
• Vary your exercise routine to combat boredom. It also helps you avoid plateaus. You can also alternate the intensity of your workout.
• Always warm up and cool down before and after your routine.
• Replace long easy cardio sessions with short high intensity interval training when you are ready. This will give you great results.
• Weight training is extremely important. It helps boost metabolism, increases strength, build strong bones, improves joint stability among other benefits.
• Don’t go on fad diets or make poor nutritional choices to get rid of the mid section trouble spot. Make healthy food choices – avoid processed foods, refined sugar and starchy carbs. Instead opt for fibrous food, vegetables and fruits and whole grains. Eat consciously.
• You have to exercise to get rid of that belly.Planks are great and one of the most effective abdominal exercises. Ask your fitness trainer to ensure you get it right.
• Eliminate stress – it doesn’t get you anywhere. Priortise your time and create a checklist to get you started. List the important stuff on the top and get it over and done with at the beginning of the day.
• You don’t have to answer every call, every message. You don’t have to be on FB every few minutes. Life’s waiting to be explored in real!
• Don’t skip your exercise routine even when you are awfully tempted to. It can trigger off a sequence. Ultimately you are the only one to lose out.
Don’t settle for stereotypes of your age. Enjoy life, find time to do things you really want to, invest in good food, travel, books, exercise and quality living, meditate for at least 20 minutes a day, every time you feel like you are getting stressed – pull back, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself if worrying is actually going to change anything, catch up with friends, watch a good movie, indulge in a massage, do something for someone when they least expect it, engage in social service, get your regular medical checkups, take a power nap, take an impromptu break and do something you love… know that this is your life, this is your body and each choice you make each day should make you feel good inside out!
Sandesh Palungwa Limbu, Certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and specialises in mixed martial arts.