Get Moving- Part Two
by Paige Hessel
Strength Training for Folks Over Fifty
My 80-something mom moved recently, putting her house on the market. She loves her condo and while it’s bittersweet for me to imagine never having another Christmas at the house I grew up in, I am grateful that she is in a safe and secure environment. After my stepfather passed away, I constantly worried about my mother being alone in her home. It was a pretty big house, lots of stairs with no security system. She had been casually house/condo hunting on and off for a few years, but then suddenly it was a done deal! As I was helping her unpack her pantry items a few weeks ago, I picked up two cans of green beans from a box and did a couple of arm curls. She saw me out of the corner of her eye and said “What are you doing?”. I showed her again and then handed her the cans. She lit up when she realized she had “dumbbells” in her kitchen cabinets!
It is imperative that we move our bodies at any age. Staying flexible will help ward off aches and pains that come with a sedentary lifestyle. It’s always advisable to consult your doctor before starting a fitness program. When you have the all clear don’t hesitate to get started! Many hospitals have exercise programs for seniors, perhaps there is a community center near you that has one. I recently joined a national chain fitness facility and I can say I have never been more motivated or comfortable in a gym environment. People from all ages work out and I am constantly inspired seeing folks over 50 using weight machines, barbells and dumbbells.
If you join a facility, ask if there is a trainer. Fortunately, my membership includes unlimited personal training. You may have to pay for a session, but having a professional show you the correct way to use a machine or lift weights is worth the small extra expense.
Keep the following in mind:
- If you work out with a partner, you are more likely to stick with it
- Don’t skimp on appropriate footwear. Your feet are your foundation and if you are lifting weights, you want to be stable and properly supported.
- Don’t overdo it! Remember; the heavier the weight, the more you will add bulk.
- Always start with lighter weights and stick to sets of repetitions, or reps. When you exercise in sets, you can keep track of your improvements and accomplishments!
- Change up your routine. Maybe spend 20-30 minutes on the treadmill on one day and then work on your upper torso the next day. By switching up the muscle groups you are working on, you are less likely to injure yourself.
- Always stretch before and after you work out to minimize risk of injury.
- Remember to have fun!