When do you want to stop living the way you currently live your life?
For the men, at what point do you think your muscles will start to digress?
It is a tough question to ask but a necessary one, especially if we want to be honest about our physical limits and requirements for our activities of daily living. We are focusing on men this month, as it is Men’s Health Month, but this pertains to everyone. As we age, the truth about how we lived our life comes through in our body’s appearance, our movements, injuries, and compensation patterns we’ve developed. Over a life time, these change who we are. There are a few things we can do to help our body move in the right direction and maintain our current physical capabilities over time:
POWER: Many patients that come through our doors express fear or concern about the loss in their strength as they are getting older. Although our bodies do naturally lose muscle as we age, it is our ability to quickly recruit the rapidly decreasing muscle. Therefore it is necessary for all people, regardless of their age, to include some form of power training in their lifestyle. Power can be expressed as work over time – ideally doing fast motions with a moderate to challenging resistance. Power training is not weightlifting exclusive. Other examples of power motions could include sprinting, swinging a golf club and chopping wood, or many other sports such as tennis, volleyball, and martial arts. Remember that short bouts of intensity will help maintain your physical activity in the long run.
TRAIN SMART: It is important to train within our capabilities not only to prevent injury but to allow proper recovery – which is essential to positive growth in our body. As we age, our body will not be capable of what it once was, but that does not mean we should not test our current limits and always strive to be better. As we train/exercise, it is important to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time – which are all variables we need to consider for wherever we are at in our life and training plan. Example: Running a 5k in under 30:00 minutes after 3 months of training having some previous experience running. Try and use this to help you clarify your training goals and put them on a timeline.
REST: Although rest is an essential part of recovery in our life, as we get older we typically see people become less and less active. This trend further feeds into the injury and inactivity cycle we see all too often. Being inactive and rest are not one and the same. A study was done on collegiate basketball players to assess the change in their bodies after 3 weeks of bed rest and then the study was repeated 40 years later to see how the athletes aging had affected the data. In summary, the study showed that 3 weeks of bed rest lead to more of a physical performance decrease than the 40 years of aging had on their bodies. To this end, we need to make sure that we earn our rest and recovery with the proper resistance and challenge to our body to encourage it to move in the right direction throughout our lifetime.
-Zach Dykes, Exercise Specialist