All of us deserve and should work towards achieving a healthy body no matter what age. I believe it’s your mental age which determines your performance and well-being rather than your chronological age. I often come across 30 year olds complaining about it being too late to start exercise and 17 year olds complaining about a host of aches and pains. I have also come across active 70 year olds who exercise regularly and exude vitality and positivity. Ultimately it’s your attitude towards life and its resulting actions that makes all the difference.
Your biological age is maintained and improved with proper exercise, proper food and the right mindset regardless of the number of years you have lived. A healthy body is disease free, energetic, flexible, well coordinated, suitably weighted, stable and balanced.
There is no doubt that age affects your physiological state and certain conditions are imminent with the passing years. You may not be able to run as fast or lift weights like before or your recovery may be prolonged but a healthy and active lifestyle can help you minimize and slow down the processes of degeneration as one grows old, and in some cases completely reversed or prevent age related illnesses and conditions.
There is no reason why you should not continue with a regular exercise routine if you have not been exercising for a long time, or even start exercising even if you have never done it before. There are different forms of exercise that seniors can enjoy and benefit from such as yoga, swimming, weight training, walking, jogging, etc. I recommend that you include aerobic, anaerobic and pliability aspects of exercise in your routine. Use of proper form, posture, movement, and breathing along with duration, frequency and intensity should be taken into consideration while exercising. Here are a the very basic tips that you may want to consider:
Posture and Movement:
Always keep your back straight throughout the movement. When you bend, work it through your hips. Your spine should form a straight line from the top of your neck to your tail bone. Exception: Some stretches and yoga postures requires you to bend and arch your back.
Never lock your joints with force, always keep it slightly soft. Don’t perform exercises which strain your joints. Eg. If you are squatting please make sure that your knees don’t go past your toes. Sit back towards your heels.
Use precise practical range of motion.
Use controlled movements instead of jerky ones.
- Breathing is also an indicator of the intensity of your workout. Please work to a point where you are not out of breath or straining to breathe.
- Never hold your breath. You may pause during the transition phase. (Exception: some breathing exercise require you to hold your breath -kumbak)
- Always breathe through your nostrils (breathe in through the nose and exhale through your mouth). Use your mouth only when your body demands more air (slow down if that happens). Exception: blocked nose or breathing exercise requiring mouth inhalation
- If you are stretching use deep relaxed breathing. Coordinate your movements with your breathing.
- While lifting weights exhale in the lifting phase and when you are bending forward.
Two to five days is recommended but it depends on your fitness level, health status and your goals or should be based on individual requirement.
20 – 60 minutes per session
You should be able to feel a certain level of effort during your workout. If you find it too easy to perform then you should note that it’s time to progress to an increased level of intensity. For example if you are doing aerobic endurance training (walking, jogging, cycling, etc) you should be able to talk in short to medium length sentences. If you are able to carry a normal conversation, it shows that you are not exercising in appropriate intensity.
Please remember that ageing is a state of mind and a relative term. It’s never too late to start exercising and if you are a beginner, start with simple movements and exercise with low to moderate intensity like static stretches, slow walks and breathing exercises. You should observe and listen to your body to check if you are doing the right thing. Proper exercise will result in light, energetic and youthful body with other health benefits. Note that exercise is not an option and it helps elevate your quality of living.
Sandesh Palungwa Limbu, Certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and specialises in mixed martial arts.