Category Archives: Fitness over 50

Fitness over 50 Beginners – Try Resistance Bands

Fitness Over 50 - Resistance BandsIf you’re over 50 and either new to the idea of working out or haven’t been in a gym in years I have the perfect solution to getting you started on the path to getting in shape and fighting the inevitable muscle and coordination loss of sarcopenia that is just a natural art of aging.

Resistance bands or exercise bands as some people call them are great for resistance training at almost any level but especially for the beginner. Just some of the benefits are:

  • No gym required – You can get a workout just as effective as a gym workout without leaving home. This will certainly save you time and provides you with privacy and the luxury of scheduling your fitness routine around your lifestyle.
  • Low Cost – Many resistance bands can be purchased for less than $20. I recommend buying a few different ones, they come in different thicknesses to give you different levels of resistance. You could even throw in an instructional DVD and still come in under $50 – $60. I know some gyms that charge that or more a month.
  • Portable – Resistance bands  can be folded up and put in a small hand bag, carry all, or even fit in a glove compartment. Just right for maintaining your routine while traveling.
  • Versatility – These simple little things can perform HUNDREDS of different exercises that when done correctly and with proper form provide you with the same resistance as weights. Your muscles don’t know the difference between weights and bands, it’s all in the amount of tension and positioning of the bands. That’s why I suggest getting a pack of varying thicknesses.
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Will Insurance Cover Gym Membership?

For most of us over 50 but not yet over 65 the answer is no. But if you are one of the 9,000 people over fifty that will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years then the answer could be yes!

Medicare Advantage Silver Sneakers Plan

SilverSneakers is a  program for seniors provided as a free benefit by many Medicare Advantage programs in the country. It’s federally funded and offered to Medicare Advantage programs. To find out if there is a participating gym in your area click on Silver Sneakers Locator.

Does my plan offer Silver Sneakers?

More than forty major plans across the country offer the SilverSneakers Fitness Program as a part of their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement and group retiree plans. The programs are serviced by a network of participating fitness locations such as YMCAs, Curves®, gyms, wellness centers and other facilities.

To see if your plan offers SilverSneakers click on SilverSneakers Health Plan Locator.

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Fitness Journals Can Help You Achieve Your Goal

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Sometimes it’s difficult to notice the changes that are happening to our bodies and spirits when we begin a fitness routine. Being over 50 has taught me patience and I know that there is no overnight miracle success to getting and staying in shape but still I’d like to have some way of reassuring myself that the time and effort, (not to mention the sweat and tears) is paying off and that I am step by step “getting there.”

When we first embark on a fitness journey it isn’t long before our friends and family can see the changes in us, often times even before we can see it ourselves. This can keep us motivated to continue on. I mean who doesn’t like a little praise every now and then? But after a while the pats on the back stop coming and that’s when we have to find other ways to stay motivated.

I’ve found that keeping a fitness journal helps me to stay on point. When I’m wondering if I’m really making any progress I can always look back a month or so and see that I’ve increased the time that I can stay on the bike or elliptical machine without tiring or that I have added a few more pounds or reps to the weight that I can lift. True these gains may not be as easy to see to others but I know just how much effort I’ve put into being fit and that is always enough to lift my spirits and make me look forward to the next workout.

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Over 50 Fitness – Choosing the Right Gym

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Over the years I’ve lived in and traveled to many different places and whenever I found myself in any one place for any longer than I week I usually felt the need to locate a gym or fitness center. Luckily most gyms offer either a short term rate or even a free trial membership. This has given me the opportunity to go inside a lot of different facilities and I’d like to share with you what in my opinion makes some better than the rest.


Cleanliness

Although the other items in this article are in no particular order this first item, Cleanliness, is at the very top of the list. Most places will look clean at first glance but make sure that the locker rooms are cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. Are there dirty towels lying around? Does it pass the sniff test? Are the mirror’s clean? The waste bins over-flowing.

In the workout areas does the facility provide sani-wipes to wipe down the equipment after each use? This is extremely important as most germs are transfered by hand contact. Oh and don’t forget to bring your shower shoes if you’ll be showering at the gym after your workout.

Equipment Condition and Availabilty

Is the equipment maintained and in good condition. Serious injury could occur by using faulty gym machines. Are there enough machines, barbells, and floor space for you to work out? I hate it when I have to wait for 20 or 30 minutes to get on an exercise bike or there is a line waiting to use a particular machine. I like to get in the gym, do my thing and get out. I know that for some it’s a good place to mingle and socialize and I have nothing against that but for me it’s all about the workout and getting fit. Which brings me to my next item.

Atmosphere

Just because I don’t socialize at the gym doesn’t mean that I like a Spartan, no-nonsense type atmosphere. A lot of gyms have T.V.’s in them now and I’ve often been able to catch up on the news or watch a ball game while riding the bike or elliptical machine. I’ve also met some really nice people and even made a few good friends at me local gym. I think the atmosphere and tone is set by the management and staff which is important.

Staff

I’ve seen good gyms that could be a lot better if they had staff that understood the importance of good service. Instead of being out on the gym floor and available they hover around the main desk and seem to be more involved with each other than the gym patrons. The best staff is well trained in the latest in physical fitness and eager to help you reach your goals. I like the ones that are like good waitresses at a diner. Not always asking how they can help but seem to have a sixth sense about knowing when they’re needed.

Defibrillator

Okay, I admit that now that I’m over 50 I think of these things but then again this blog IS about fitness over 50 and I have actually seen the availability of a heart defibrillator possibly save the life of one man at  a gym. Wouldn’t have thought about it before that incident but now it’s one of the tings that I look for.

So what do you think is a must have for the right gym?




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About Anti Aging – 5 Best Tips

  1. Don’t Smoke – Number One for good reason. Causes cancer, hardens arteries, ages skin and leads to cardiovascular disease.
  2. Resistance exercise. Sure aerobics are good for the heart and respiratory systems but resistance or weight training fights Sarcopenia, the sagging skin, stooped posture and loss of coordination that comes with aging.
  3. Eat your veggies (and fruit too). Vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants that aid in preventing heart disease and cancer, lower blood pressure and slow aging. Berries, broccoli and tomatoes are the best sources for antioxidants.
  4. Manage stress and anxiety. Learn to Let Go and Let God. If we’re honest with ourselves and take a look back at our lives we can see that a lot of the things that we worried so much about in the past either didn’t happen or seemed to work themselves out in the end. That’s one advantage of getting older. We have a history to reflect on and learn from.
  5. Maintain and develop solid personal relationships. One of the key indicators of growing old unhappily is withdrawal and isolation. It’s insidious and can feed on itself. Left alone with our own thoughts the world can become a lonely, dark and scary place. Get out, have a few laughs, take a class. Enjoy life! If you’re over 50 like me you’ve earned it!
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Aerobics or Resistance, Which is Best?

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Best Exercise For Over 50 – Aerobics or Resistance?

Often the question comes up about what type of exercises are best over 50 years old. For decades the belief was that aerobics that worked the cardiovascular and respiratory systems were the best. While there is no disputing the benefits of aerobics new studies show that resistance or weight training is more important in fighting sarcopenia, the ravages of aging that decrease our coordination, creates wrinkles and sagging skin and causes stooped posture.

For these reasons I like to suggest that a combination of the two is the best exercise plan for those over 50. This is not as difficult or time consuming as it may seem to be and the rewards are terrific. I had been trying several different routines for a couple of years before I stumbled across this and although by then I was in moderately good condition my workouts had become boring and I dreaded going to the gym.

After combining aerobics with resistance my time in the gym became fun again and I was finally able  to lose those last 5 or 7 pounds that I wanted to and that had been so elusive up till then. As I said I “stumbled” on this accidentally because I just wanted to change things up a bit but after I saw the results I did some research and found that what I was doing is actually recommended by many experts in the medical and fitness fields as the best way to combat aging.

I use a variation of interval training. Interval training involves short burst of moderately intense exertion like jogging, enough to get the heart rate up, followed by active “rest periods” like walking. You don’t actually rest but you lower your rate of exertion to a comfortable level. This is followed by another short burst of intense exertion. These are typically done in cycles of 1 minute exertion followed by 2 minute rest until you can work up to 1 minute cycles of each then 2 minutes exertion and 1 minute rest and so on.   It’s been shown that 15 minutes of this type of exercise gives you the same workout as a 30  minute routine using the regular method of 30 minutes of constant motion. This cuts your time in the gym in half!

My variation on this adds resistance or weight training to the “rest” cycle. Instead of walking I jump on an exercise machine or grab a barbell and do a little resistance training while my heart rate slows down. Now I’m able to jog at a nice pace for about 5 minutes before my heart rate gets to aerobic level (about 123 bpm for me) and then I do 5 minutes of resistance with moderately heavy weights. Nothing heavy, don’t need to because my muscles are already somewhat stressed from the jogging.

This has kept my workouts fun and eliminated the monotony. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

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Health Club Membership – Perfect Gift

Baby Boomers  are the fastest-growing age group  in the countries fitness centers and health clubs. Two hot new high paced classes now popular with the over 50 crowd are  Zumba which melds Latin dance moves with exercise , and Nia a low impact aerobics exercise program that combines Latin dance with Tai Chi and yoga.

Polls show that baby boomers are  as a group experimental, individualistic and  free spirited. These traits mark them as very different from the generations before them and should mean that the trend towards staying engaged in physical activity will continue all of their lives.

Women over 50 in particular  are more better educated, more independent,  working and handling  family responsibilities more than any generation in history.

Most “boomers” believe that “old” is 78 and they are the first generation to really feel that living to 100 is a achievable goal.

Men and women 50 and older like and will spend on luxury items such as cars, houses and travel and in many cases have paid off their homes so have the money to spend. They believe they’ve worked hard all their lives so now they deserve what comforts and pampering they can afford. Health club membership for the over 50 and fit (or wanna be fit)  is the perfect gift.

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Resistance Training – Fighting Muscle Loss With Age

In a previous post I covered the causes of sarcopenia and discussed how the muscle loss associated with age can effect our health and quality of life. In this article I will go over how resistance exercises can help us avoid or reverse this.

The medical community has shown that all healthy adults benefit from some type of exercise which will raise their pulse for at least ten minutes at a time. This should be done for a total of at least 30 minutes a day 3 – 5 days a week.

This is known as endurance exercise and while the benefits are many, improved cardiovascular health, strengthened joints, increased mental sharpness, increased metabolism and more energy come to mind, this kind of exercise really does little to build muscle so is ineffective at fighting the loss of muscle mass.

To prevent or reverse losing muscle mass requires some kind of resistance training, exercises that cause the muscle to work against an opposing force. This causes the muscles to grow or at least not decline. An added benefit is that it also helps the bones retain their strength and density.

In a study of women aged 50 to 70, the women who strength trained gained 1% more bone density in the hip and spine while the group that did not lift weights lost 2.5 % bone density. Those who trained had strength increases from about 35 to 76% above the control group. Balance improved 14% and general physical activity increased by about 27%.  – About.com
Resistance training is optimally done using weights but the typical weights found at the gym can be subsituted at home by using cans from the pantry, milk jugs filled with water or even socks filled with sand. It’s important to note here though that the stronger one gets the more resistance one will need in order for the training to remain effective.

A lot of older people that I know swim on a regular basis. Swimming is an excellent resistance exercise and it combines the benefits of endurance exercise.

Another good choice is resistance bands. They’re cheap, portable and can be stored in a drawer.

Whatever your choice make sure you incorporate some resistance and strength training, 8 to 10 exercises of 8 to 12 repetitions, twice a week into your fitness plan.

Next time I’ll cover some examples of the best exercises for resistance training for those over 50.

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Sarcopenia – The Keys to Reversing the Signs of Aging

In the previous post about aging I covered sarcopenia, the term that scientist use when discussing the loss of muscle mass, stooped posture and slowed uncoordinated movement that often besets older people. This is the combined result of biological changes in the body that include a slowing of synthesis of needed proteins, a loss of the hormones testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) and the dieing off of neurons that the body uses to stimulate the muscles to action.

According to a USDA website these normal aging processes begin to occur at around the age of 45 when we start to lose about one percent of muscle mass per year. The loss is accelerated at the age of around 60.

Leading a sedentary life will make the effects of sarcopenia worsen as we grow older. This has been proven over the years by tests performed by NASA who noticed “old age” type symptoms of otherwise very fit astronauts who returned from long periods in space where their movement and exercise where extremely limited.

Doctors and scientist have discovered  that sarcopenia and the  muscle degradation that the astronauts faced have  a common cure: resistance training . Doctors have long recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise like jogging or walking. This kind of exercise is great for the cardiovascular system, it may even add a little muscle, but resistance training that requires the use of weights to build muscle is what is needed to have any real gains. Multiple  studies since the late 1990s point to resistance training  as the best  tool against sarcopenia, many physical therapists and doctors  are advising resistance training  over aerobic exercise.

Beginning resistance training in mid-life delays and reduces the appearance of sarcopenia later and  one study showed that elderly people aged 78 to 84 who went on a program experienced an average increase in protein synthesis of 182 percent. Another study, funded by the USDA, found that elderly participants who trained  for 45 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks saw an average increase of 32 percent for muscle fiber and a 30 percent increase in strength.In effect, reversing the signs of aging!

Exercises for Fitness Over 50

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Aging Is Inevitable – Or Is It Really?

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If you’re over 50 your fitness depends on many factors,  some we can control and unfortunately some we can’t. Many of the ones that we have no control over are hereditary, they just “run in the family”. These would be things like heart disease, diabetes and even obesity. One thing beyond everyone’s ability to do anything about though regardless of who their parents are is aging. Or is it really?

As the body ages it sometimes tends to stoop, the skin begins to sag, movement can become slower and uncoordinated. This is all a result of loss of muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. For most of the history of mankind these traits were considered a given. Part of the aging process and nothing could be done about it. Luckily today research upon research has determined that sarcopenia or at least profound sarcopenia is NOT inevitable.

True, there are some contributing factors of sarcopenia that are still beyond our reach such as disease and environmental factors but as it pertains to getting older the main causes that we CAN affect are hormone changes, protein deficiency and motor unit restructuring.

Muscle is made up of proteins. The body is in a constant state of trying to reach a balance between making more protein and using what protein there is available for energy. These processes are called synthesis and metabolism respectively.

The body can produce some proteins itself by converting amino acids. Other needed proteins cannot be made by the body and are acquired from outside sources, these are called “essential proteins” and are derived from the foods that we eat.

As we age, withstanding disease or trauma, we never stop metabolizing proteins but we do steadily lessen the ability to synthesize our own internally. It is thought that this is due to the decrease in hormones testosterone and HGH or human growth hormone. This is where protein and hormone loss contributes to the aging process.

Motor Unit Restructuring happens when the signaling mechanisms (motor neurons) that control the muscles start to die off. There are two types of these neurons, ones that control fast movement and ones that control slower movement. It seems that the ones that control fast movement die first, when this happens the other slower neurons step in and take their place. This is good because other-wise the muscle would die too, but it does noticeably slow the reaction time between thought and movement. It also can cause slooped posture and sagging skin.

Next time I will talk about ways to minimize or reverse the effects of sarcopenia.

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