If staying active as you get older is important to you, working out at home is a great way to maintain muscle you have and build more strength, flexibility and balance. When you have more leisure time, you can expand the range of your workouts and take exercise out of the house to the gym, the community pool or even the soccer field in the park. After all, variety is the spice of life and adding some different workout options will make staying active as you get older more fun.
Your Guide to Staying Active as You Get Older
“Without question, exercise is the most powerful intervention to address muscle loss, whether it occurs in the context of advancing age or debilitating chronic or acute diseases,” explains Nathan K. LeBrasseur, Ph.D., of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.” 1
Fuel Your Body Before & After
Eating right—before and after exercise—is just as important as staying active as you get older. You want to make sure that you are giving your body everything it needs to sustain you during exercise and repair muscles afterwards.
- Snack two hours or so before you workout: include some protein and carbs in this snack, like a banana and some nuts, yogurt or whole grain bread.
- Hydrate well before and during your exercise routine.
- Follow up your workout with food that refuels your body and helps repair your muscles. Ideally, this will include a good dose of protein and leucine—the essential amino acid that preserves muscle—as found in a healthy protein powder smoothie! Mix it up and drink it within 30 minutes of your workout.
According to an NIH study in 2010: “Supplementing regular mixed-nutrient meals with leucine may also enhance the muscle protein synthetic response in elders.” 2 The complete protein that you get in Boomer Nutrition ENERGY Whey and NEW Organic Vegan Protein works fast and breaks down easily for your body to absorb giving you energy to make staying active as you get older even easier.
Heart Healthy Aerobic Exercise
Getting your heart pumping and the blood flowing is important for your health. Endurance is what enables you to continue engaging in the activities you enjoy. Low impact activities that are fun and fit in with your interests are perfect.
Remember, low impact doesn’t mean a lack of intensity! What you want to avoid is excess stress on joints, like hips and knees, but you still want to get the improved stamina and endurance that an aerobic workout will give you. If you weren’t a runner before, it might not be the time to take up the challenge of running a marathon but a lot can be said for a brisk walk the works up a sweat.
Instead, these are some good low impact exercise options:
- Water aerobics classes
- Low impact aerobics classes
- Dance classes
- Cycling – outdoors, indoor or new underwater cycling classes
- Hiking – or even a high speed walk through the park
- Elliptical machines at the local gym
Strength Exercises to Tone Muscles
Muscle loss happens as we age, beginning in our 40s and accelerating as we get older. This loss contributes to your ability to remain active, mobile and balanced. Staving off this loss—also known as sarcopenia—is best done through exercise.
Strength exercises are well documented for preventing the loss of muscle mass, if performed at least three times a week so don’t sweat it if cardio is not your thing. Strength training is an effective way of staying active as you you get older.
- Nautilus weights at your gym—enlist the support of a trainer to put together a routine that gives you an all around strength training workout.
- Light free weights, either on their own in a series of exercises or while you’re walking
- Resistance training with bands or using your own weight as the counterbalance.
Combining Stretching and Strengthening for the Win!
If weights aren’t your thing, you can do exercise that complement your aerobic activities, strengthen your core and muscles AND help you maintain balance and flexibility. Try:
- Tai chi
Create a schedule for yourself that mixes it up a little so that you get in aerobic, strength and stretching workouts, several times a week. By alternating the types of workouts, you keep it stimulating, which increases the chances of your sticking with a routine. Plus, you’ll be working out different muscles with different exercises and giving the ones you used last time a chance to rebuild. Even better if you can work out with a friend.
Don’t forget to keep protein powder with leucine handy for that post workout shake. After all, we all get busy, but neglecting to fuel your body won’t help you keep up!