Exercise and the Mature Adult
Ask any mature adult (read someone in their 40’s and 50’s) how their body looks and feels when they get up in the morning compared to how they looked and felt in their 20’s and you will typically hear a colorful response pointing out this ache and that pain. Where one once leaped out of bed pain free with energy to burn, it is now replaced with the sounds of a popular breakfast cereal-snap, crackle, and pop! This blog article will point out some specific parameters to consider when exploring exercise and the mature athlete or fitness enthusiast.
Studies show that strength peaks around 25 years of age, hits a plateau through 35 to 40 years of age, and then declines in the following decades. Lean muscle mass starts to decrease by 5lbs of lean muscle per decade after the age of 40. This is largely the result of decreasing levels of human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone. Combine this with the triple whammy of gravity, increased need for recovery time, and a slowing down of your metabolism and you soon recognize that you no longer bounce right back from weekends of long sleepless nights and eating and drinking whatever you desire. So do we throw in the towel and accept the aging process? No, we chose to fight back by implementing weight training, sound nutrition, aerobic exercise/ physical activity, and mobility.
Weight training is a crucial key to any program for the mature fitness enthusiast. It is the single best way to prevent muscle loss, add muscle mass, and increase bone density. Loss of bone density or osteoporosis also increases as we age, especially in women. Adding strength training to your exercise regime can counteract these effects of aging. Adding resistance or strength training 3-4 days a week through banded resistance exercises, free weights or weight lifting machines will help you retain muscle mass, increase muscle mass, and improve bone density. Weight training by virtue of increasing lean muscle mass will also increase your metabolism preventing that middle age spread.
By the time you hit 40, your metabolism starts to decline by 5% every decade. It is largely a result of your decreased muscle mass associated with aging equals a slowing down of your basal metabolic rate. In a nutshell, your body will no longer require the same amount of calories: less muscle mass = slower metabolism. So as we age, if we continue to eat the same amount of calories as we did in our youth, we will gain excess weight and in turn body fat. Following a sound nutrition program filled with lean protein sources, colorful fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats while avoiding fast food, processed foods, and simple sugars.
Aerobic exercise is also a crucial element in the health and wellbeing of the mature adult. The incidence of diabetes, stroke, heart disease and a multitude of other ailments increases sharply as we enter our 4th and 5th decades. It is widely accepted that aerobic exercise has many great health benefits including strengthening your heart and lungs, helping to lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, improve your immune function, and lower your blood pressure. Studies also point to aerobic exercise as helping to decrease symptoms of depression thereby improving your overall mental health as well as physical.
Yoga, mobility, rest, and recovery are key components in formulating a solid exercise program for the mature adult. As we age, we are more susceptible to injury. Injuries if they occur will also take a longer period of time to recover from than in our youth. Incorporating yoga, mobility and active stretching into our fitness programs will assist in creating strong and agile hips, knees, backs, and shoulders reducing the incidence of injury. Building in rest/recovery days into your programming and avoiding consecutive days of training the same muscle groups will also aid in injury prevention.
Please use our contact form above if you have any questions or would like help formulating a safe and effective exercise program. Exercise may not be the proverbial fountain of youth, but multiple studies show that regular exercise can assist in preventing chronic diseases and delay aging.