The baby boomer generation is defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 according to the US Census Bureau. When it comes to exercise and aging, there is a growing body of research that says this group of 50-70 year olds can benefit tremendously from it, especially programs that incorporate weight training.
Increasing mobility, strength and balance
As we age, there are shifts in how our body performs as well as shifts in what we hope to achieve in the gym. What was once a place to get bigger muscles, or lose weight, is now an area where we want to increase mobility, maintain muscle mass, get stronger, and in some cases improve balance.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Now that’s not to say that getting bigger muscles or losing weight isn’t a goal as we age, but it may have to take a back seat to feeling and moving better. There are a few things that happen as we age that can be helped through an exercise program that is built to fit your needs.
For starters, as we age we tend to lose muscle mass, which in turn leads to decreases in strength through a process known as sarcopenia. A decrease in strength can have a big impact on how you move.
Think about it this way, if your legs felt weak, you’d be more likely to take short steps to make sure they don’t give out on you and to maintain balance. Now if your legs were stronger from constant exercise, you’d be a lot more confident in your steps.
One way to combat this this is with a resistance training program that uses a variety of methods and equipment. One of the better ways is to train through movement patterns and less through isolation type exercises.
You’re going to want prioritize your training into exercises that will translate into your everyday life. Using something like a deadlift, whether it is with a bar, a dumbbell or a kettlebell, can translate into picking anything off the floor.
You also want to be able to challenge yourself using resistance that is appropriate for what you’re hoping to accomplish. This means minimizing light dumbbells when you can handle heavier ones, or progressing exercises where you can. It also means learning to train in all 3 planes of motion.
Machines at the gym tend to stay in one plane of motion, which leaves us needing other planes, especially ones in the transverse plane. For example, how often do you do something like a lateral lunge or something with rotation while you are working out? If your answer was rarely, it’s time to analyze your program.
Listen to your body
Now another aspect when it comes to exercising as you age is all the orthopedic concerns you may have. Everyone has an achy knee, shoulder or back. It’s important to learn that you can train around those aches and pains by re-learning how to move through ranges of motion that your body was meant to do.
Since you’re not as young as you used to be and you could just train around pain or worse, through pain; it’s important to include mobility and corrective type exercises that will help you move better. That is just asking for an injury and it’s harder to bounce back from that.
Lastly, exercise, specifically a weight training routine helps with bone density, which is another concern as you age, especially in women. Exercises that are weight bearing and utilize a great deal of muscle will help this aspect of aging and exercise the most.
As you age, you definitely want to either start an exercise program or adjust the current one you are on. It is important to incorporate exercises that focus on:
-range of motion/mobility
These will help you to have a well-rounded program that will set you up for success, so you should consider including into your program. In addition to all the physical reasons that you should exercise as you get older, there is also a huge boost in maintaining mental clarity. Exercise can stave off dementia and loss of memory issues that are common as you age.
It is never too late to start. If you haven’t exercised for a while, take your time and ease back into it. Another option is finding a professional that has experience in training older population clients. Because of the orthopedic concerns as well as the changes in anatomy, it is imperative to have someone that knows what they’re doing design a program for you.