Exercise Guidelines to Keep You Strong as You Age

We all have different needs when it comes to exercise and those needs continue to change as we age. When was the last time you really thought seriously about your exercise routine? More importantly, are you experiencing gains with the current program you’re on? Maybe gains came easy when you were younger. What worked once, however, for whatever reasons does not seem to work as good now.

First, celebrate your success. You have continued to exercise all these years and that’s a good thing even if – at times – it may not be as evident when you step onto your bathroom scale. Keep in mind, more than 30 percent of Americans do not exercise at all and only about 5 percent of the population exercise at what is considered a vigorous level. Approximately 69 percent of Americans are currently overweight or obese.

All the work you’ve put in has done wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. More specifically, it has helped maintain your strength and lean muscle levels. A loss of muscle tissue occurs, for those who do not exercise, at a rate of about half a pound a year or roughly 5 pounds per decade. As this happens, a few of the many by-products are loss of strength, power and balance.

Use It Or Lose It

The average person who does not exercise regularly, experiences an 8 percent drop in their strength level per decade. By the time someone reaches age 65 they have about 25 percent less strength compared to when they were 30 years old. On the aerobic side of things you lose about 10 percent of your aerobic capacity each decade after age 40. There is potential to lose as much as 25 percent of bone in both sexes, as a result of inactivity, sitting too much and menopausal changes in women. With all this decline comes balance issues and additional problems with functionality, that could ultimately lead to a loss of independence.

Write down what you and your body really need as you get ready to enter 2021. What are you truly looking to accomplish with all the time you invest in yourself doing exercise and trying to eat healthier? You don’t own it until you write it down.

Needs Assessment

Prior to beginning any type of exercise program, it is essential that you undergo a needs assessment. The goal of this analysis is to create clearly defined goals that will help you make the most progress from your training. Ask yourself, what does your body really need at this point in time? Maybe you need more mobility work and less pounding (running) or loading (lifting weights). You may have been doing a lot of strength or cardio work but how is your balance? When was the last time you treated yourself to a good massage or took a yoga class? Find out what you need (by testing yourself) and set a few short and long-term goals.

Test Yourself Periodically

Work with a coach and complete an assessment to determine where you currently stand in the following areas below. Ask yourself: How do you judge improvement if you don’t measure it? Visit our Jefit Coach to help.

  • Body Composition
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic ability
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Balance

Exercise Program

This is where most of us get lost and end up wasting a lot of time. The first goal is to find out what’s tight and lengthen it and then what’s weak and strengthen it. This will ultimately help you move and lift better in the gym. The second goal is to move better, also known as movement competency. Once an individual can execute a movement efficiently with a full range of motion (that is unrestricted), like a Squat or Deadlift, then and only then should the volume (sets x reps x load) be increased. When someone cannot execute a particular movement pattern correctly, do not increase repetitions, the number of sets or especially the load. Anyone who is loading tight, stiff muscles is basically an accident waiting to happen, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll need to take time off!

Focus on the primary movement patterns below using the “Big 6” as part of your primary strength routine and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Carry
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull

A well-designed exercise program should improve mobility, increase strength, power, improve cardiovascular fitness and more. A strength and conditioning program should change body composition by way of adding lean muscle tissue and decreasing body fat. Balance should also improve in addition to flexibility and mobility. You must add time to your workout though to address it. But you won’t know if you’re improving if you don’t periodically measure it. Has this been an issue for you?

Focus on adding in a bout of sprint work to your weekly cardio routine. This should come in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A few examples would be sprinting, cycling or rowing. Place more emphasis on quality rather than quantity when doing HIIT and remember, the key is manipulating the intensity as you get better at it.

Finally, focus on doing more mobility work each time you exercise and make it part of your recovery process on off days. These guidelines will help keep you strong and functional through the aging process.

Potential Prescription Ideas

  • Strength training (Big 6) 2-3x/week.
  • Fitness: Elevate your heart rate 2-3x/week for 15-30:00 (wear a heart rate monitor). Add HIIT at least once a week.
  • Power: work on vertical or horizontal jumping 1x/week (jump rope, box jumps, DOT drills, etc.)
  • Add more mobility work (via movements and foam roller etc.).
  • Baseline/Follow-up Assessment
  • Try Yoga

Use Jefit to Help Track Progress and More

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

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Quick Tests To Gauge Mobility, Strength, Anaerobic Capacity and More

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When was the last time you tested yourself to determine your overall fitness level? Have you ever even been tested? If you worked with a coach or personal trainer in the past then most likely you’ve been tested. Or let’s just say you should have been. Periodic quick tests like the following three, can be used as a motivational tool, to help break through plateaus, and to help determine what you’re doing in the gym is actually working. Most importantly though, your program design should be based off the results of your testing. How can you manage something if you never measure it?

There are many different types of fitness tests available to help gauge where you’re at. Most people spend their time testing their strength using exercise like bench press for maximum repetitions. The following three tests work because they are safe, effective and offer insight into more than one area of your body.

Quick Tests: One-Minute Peak Power Test and 500 Meter Row

The great thing about a rowing machine is its versatility when it comes to testing. This is especially true with a Concept 2 erg or a SkillRow from Technogym. Again, there are many test you can perform. Remember, we want it to be fast and easy to do. The idea behind this test is to provide an objective assessment of your peak power output in a 60-second, all-sprint. The test will also lend insight into your ability to sustain power anaerobically. Do not pace yourself in this test, simply go all out with each stroke.

Other personal favorite quick tests are row for time. More specifically, performing 100 and 500 meter sprints. I believe the world record for the 100 meter row was 12.8 seconds and 500 meter is 1:24 performed by a female and 1:14 by a male. Most people typically do it in about 2-minutes. My personal best 500 meter row time is 1:36.8 to give you a range to shoot for. Hitting 1:30 would be great not to mention a good goal. Rowing is one of the best workouts you can do. Known as a complete workout that involves about 85 percent of your muscle mass. Other than being performed seated, it’s great. Of course the best known event is a 2k meter row in which a 7-8 minute recorded time is considered respectable. Happy rowing!

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The Complete Exercise: Turkish Get-Up

All you need for this one is one kettlebell. This is all about strength and mobility. The exercise requires several movements that need to be executed while under load. Try it initially without weight, then use a light weight before progressing to a heavier load if able. It’s an advanced, full-body strength movement. The Turkish Get-Up is performed laying on the ground while holding a weight straight over your head, you stand up, and then you reverse that entire movement until you’re back on the ground where you started. Sounds easy I know but that’s far from the truth. History has it that ancient Turkish soldiers used the get-up as part of their strength training regime.

Coach Bret Contreras has reported using electromyography (EMG) and determined that a 50-pound Turkish Get-Up was enough to cause over 100 percent peak activation of the core muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the spinal erectors). Sounds impressive enough to me. It’s called a complete exercise because it involves: rolling, a lunge pattern, an overhead hold, multiple hip hinges, glute activation, core engagement, and shoulder work, specifically, rotator cuff stabilization. Coach Todd Cambio offers a great explanation of the exercise sequence. This ain’t a bicep curl.

The test would be to first determine if you can do the movement with good form without weight. One repetition on each side. My advice would be to start using this movement as part of your dynamic warm-up. Then eventually see what you can handle for a load. If you’re a beginner with limited exercise or strength training experience….skip this test for now. Use bodyweight only if you do decide to go for it.

Bodyweight Deep Squat

If you are having trouble with a Squat or Deadlift, try experimenting with this bodyweight deep squat. It’s another one of those great quick tests that offers a great deal of information. Such as, where your ankle mobility stands. Many people who have trouble getting low when doing a barbell squat may have limited ankle mobility, specifically, ankle dorsiflexion. This test can help improve that exercise and many others. Your best option is add this deep squat into your dynamic warm-up like the Turkish Get-Up.

When trying this test, lower into the squat slowly dropping hips back while keeping chest up. When you begin your ascent, think about using three points of contact. As you extend the knees and hips, drive through the feet placing equal pressure on the heel, big toe and pinky toe. Don’t force anything. The goal is to see if you can get the hips lower than the knees.

Periodic self-testing will help in many ways as discussed above. In addition, finding out if positive changes are taking place in other areas of the body is also important. Changes like increases in strength and anaerobic capacity and an improvement in mobility. Improvements in these areas will translate into a better overall experience at the gym. Stay Strong!

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Effects of High Blood Sugar on Exercise

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New research in Nature Metabolism looked at the effects of exercise in individuals with high blood sugar levels. High sugar, or the term, hyperglycemia, is used when fasting blood glucose is greater than 125 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). The study suggest that a diet high in added sugar and processed foods may lead to poor blood sugar control. Study results showed poor diet could have negative, long-term, health effects on how well our body responds to exercise.

What is a Blood Profile or Panel?

blood panel is used to check for a variety of markers, including how organs (liver, heart, etc.) are functioning. A blood panel is also used to test for infections and specific genetic disorders, as well as to assess person’s general health.

Check and Document Your Blood Profile Regularly

It happens to all of us, we get our yearly physical, which typically includes a blood panel, but does your physician explain anything about the results after that? Do you compare your readings (data) from one exam to the next? Most people don’t. A healthy body starts inside, knowing and monitoring your blood profile. Companies like Inside Tracker, whose partnered with academic institutions like MIT, Harvard and Tufts University, can help on this front. They store and keep track of an individuals blood data. In addition, they make healthy food recommendations when levels are either high or low. They keep track of everything from blood sugar, A1C, and cholesterol to testosterone levels.

Study Results Showed

Previous research has shown prolonged, high sugar levels can lead to a host of health conditions. The research study in question tested 24 subjects, non of which had diabetes, to determine the effects of blood sugar on aerobic capacity. During treadmill testing, the volunteers with the worst blood-sugar control had the lowest capacity or endurance, and when the researchers performed muscle biopsies in order to examine their muscle tissues following exercise, they found high levels of proteins that could potentially inhibit improvements to endurance. According to lead investigator, Sarah Lessard, a professor at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, “constantly bathing your tissues in sugar is just not a good idea” and may reduce any subsequent benefits one gets from exercise.

The bottom line is it’s important to reduce sugar and process food in our diet. We want to reap the full benefits of all the exercise we do, not have it blunted. Dr. Lessard did mention that exercise could eventually “help people with hyperglycemia to stabilize their blood sugar.” Stay Strong with Jefit.

Reference


MacDonald, T.L., Pattamaprapanont, P., Pathak P., Fernandez, N., Freitas, EC., Hafida, S., et al. Hyperglycaemia is associated with impaired muscle signaling and aerobic adaptation to exercise. Nature Metabolism (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-020-0240-7

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