Remember when you got out of bed each morning with a spring in your step, rather than a crick in your neck? Remember being able to eat a dozen Buffalo wings, a couple of slices of pizza, and maybe even an order of jalapeño poppers without gaining an ounce or regretting it the next day? There are a lot of advantages to getting older, but a slower metabolism and a laundry list of minor physical complaints aren’t among them.
Nowadays you have to watch what you eat, be careful how you move, drink loads of water, and build a workout plan that will keep your body in tip-top shape into your golden years. We’ve got some tips for doing just that, so grab a cup of decaf and read on!
How Much Should You Be Working Out?
Let’s face it, it’s easy to get lazy as you grow older. Even if you used to play dodgeball for fun, once had a weekly pickup basketball game, and loved hitting the gym to lift on the daily, those days may well be past.
It’s OK to slow down or transition to less punishing workouts. Just make sure you still get your sweat on!
Adults should aim for at least two and a half hours each week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. That’s a brisk walk, a bike ride on flat terrain, dancing to the Latin beat of a Zumba class, or swimming.
Alternately, make time each week to get one and a quarter hours of vigorous physical exercise. Running, biking on hilly terrain, or playing tennis or racquetball are all examples of this level of activity.
Mix It up to Stick With It!
Of course, those are not your only options—not by a long shot! Also, many fitness experts advise that the key to maintaining your fitness is to incorporate variety.
Another essential element in this equation is finding workouts and activities you love. Go hiking with your kids or grandkids, try your hand (foot?) at rollerblading, or find your zen in a hot yoga class.
More extreme ways to exercise are available for the thrill-seekers. Try bungee fitness, aerial yoga, pole dancing, or belly dancing. Find a class that gets your heart rate up, works your muscles, and keeps you smiling!
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with traditional classes either. Crossfit, kettlebell circuits, HIIT, Peloton, kickboxing, and water aerobics each provide a different way to work your muscles.
Many people still have this idea that workouts aren’t supposed to be fun, or that if you’re not slogging away the miles on a treadmill, you’re not getting exercise. Nothing could be further than the truth!
Determine Your Exercise Goals
Before you can build a workout plan that works for you, it’s a good idea to consider what you want to get out of your scheduled physical activity.
Are you trying to lose weight? Want to shore up your bones and muscles against the ravages of aging? Maybe you want to complete a 5K or half-marathon a few months in the future.
Some folks like to work out because it helps alleviate mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Others use their workouts as social occasions, catching up with friends while on side-by-side spin bikes or taking a long walk together. And if there are little ones that light up your life, you probably want to get and stay in shape just so you can keep up with the grandkids!
Having a clear picture of what you want to achieve, and why, not only helps you choose the right activities but also motivates you to follow through.
Overcome Other Obstacles
There is no shortage of excuses for not being active.
The weather is less than optimal, or it’s dark out. Your volunteer work takes up all your spare time. You have a bum knee or arthritic joints. The gym membership is too expensive.
All of these are easy ways to justify the fact that what you want to do is curl up on the couch with your remote control and a big bowl of popcorn.
By building your own exercise plan, you’re setting yourself up for greatness.
If you find yourself tired or achy by evening, schedule morning workouts so you’re at your peak energy level. Commit to a weekly walk with your neighbor who will help you honor your commitment to your fitness. Spend some time browsing YouTube for free workouts that you can do in your living room.
There are an incredible number of them and an astonishing variety, so you’re sure to find something you enjoy.
Reward Yourself for a Job Well Done
Some people simply enjoy working out more than others. If you’re not enthusiastic about exercising just for exercise’s sake, or because you “should” be doing it, you may need some extra motivation.
Set yourself small goals to start with. Developing a new and beneficial habit can be hard, and we often fail because we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.
Behavioral scientists believe that taking very tiny actions is an effective way to promote positive change. Rather than seeming overwhelming or intimidating, these mini-goals are eminently doable.
As you meet them one by one, you may find that you want to exceed them. From there, you can build on your successes in a way that’s sustainable in the long run.
Along the way, cheer yourself on by giving yourself rewards. Consider cute new exercise clothes, a beautiful yoga mat, a mani-pedi, that new hardcover book by your favorite author, a decadent coffee or freshly pressed green juice, even a Sunday morning lie-in. While you enjoy your reward, pat yourself on the back for doing the hard work that was necessary to earn it.
Build a Workout Plan That Works for You
Finding exciting new ways to work out, teaming up with fitness buddies, setting goals, and celebrating when you meet them—these are all essential elements to remember when you build a workout plan for yourself. Don’t feel you have to emulate anyone else’s workout, be it a celebrity, your spouse, your child, or that super skinny woman who’s always at the gym.
This is all about you: having fun, getting fit, and actually enjoying taking care of your body despite its occasional middle-aged betrayals!
Do you have a question about how to stave off the side effects of aging and live a healthier, happier life? Feel free to contact us and ask Fred!