The Benefits of Active Aging: Train to Improve Quality of Life

So, HOW do you train to maintain your strength and agility as you get older? How do you determine the best plan to minimize physical decline? Can you train to increase your performance and activities of daily living as you age? 

The answer is YES! While nobody escapes "aging" - you CAN optimize your age via the right training.

First, let's review what exactly is "aging":

  • Aging happens at different rates in each system of the human body.
  • There are processes in aging that are Mandatory. So, in other words, they must occur and are relatively similar person to person.
  • Facultative processes describe the factors of age that are modifiable.

(For a recap on what is active aging and tips to optimize YOUR age, visit part 1 of Gym Source's active aging series - The Benefits of Active Aging: How to Stay Strong)

Now, part 2 of Gym Source's active aging series focuses on how to train to remove obstacles or limitations in your way of optimal health. 

Research shows that an active lifestyle can lessen the challenges, and increase the quality of life, often associated with aging. So, it's important to develop an active aging plan that supports your individual goals, and allows you to take charge of your health and wellness.

Training for optimal age encourages you to throw away the idea of accepting age as a fixed state and take ownership of the controllable components of age. It’s about understanding the changes in your body and giving you the knowledge and tools to optimize your body at any age. 

According to the National Institute on Aging (NOIA) there are many benefits of staying active as you age, including;

  • Keep and improve your strength so you can stay independent
  • Have more energy to do the things you want to do
  • Improve your balance and prevent falls
  • Prevent or delay some diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer
  • Perk up your mood and reduce feelings of depression
  • Sleep better at night
  • Reduce levels of stress and anxiety

Reach or maintain a healthy weight

But, how do you get started?
First, it’s important to discover where you fall on the spectrum of aging. Everyone’s journey is different, so the correct solutions, products, and services utilized should be tailored to your needs.

Finding experts in the active aging field can be challenging.To maintain your strength and agility as you get older you need to work with people who have expertise in aging and physical fitness.

You’ll may find some personal trainers make an automatic assessment that an older person is out of condition simply because of their age. Trainers often assume that person doesn’t have strength or needs to start slow when that’s simply not true.

A good trainer will ask what you typically do for exercise and start from there.

Training should fit your goal, plus support your lifestyle. 
This applies to all training but is particularly important for active aging.

The Benefits of Active Aging: Train to Improve Quality of Life

Need a 30 second burst of energy? That’s how you train. How many people really need to run slowly for 30 minutes? It’s more likely you’ll need an immediate burst of power to catch something falling off a table or the ability to recover from slipping on ice.

Your heart and your lungs need cardiovascular training to increase capacity, you need resistance training for musculoskeletal strength and you also need to increase endurance – those three areas train differently.

Almost every chapter of the ACE manual recommends that all individuals engage in some cardiovascular, strength/endurance, flexibility and balance movements on most days of the week, according to ACE Fitness.

As you get older the effects are the same but your training routine is different.
When you were in your 20’s maybe you cared about how you looked on the beach. Today it’s not about having six pack abs, it’s about health.

It's important you explore new, innovative ways to train that support your goals. Because exercise is more about intensity and duration of training (than the type of machine you are using) consider resistance training or cardiovascular training on many different kinds of equipment.

The Benefits of Active Aging: Train to Improve Quality of Life

For example, you can do resistance training on a bike.
You can do cardio on a leg press (lighter weights and more reps).

Your approach training should be specific to what you are going to use it for. Plus, consider working with a professional for help with custom workout plans tailored to support your goals and limitations.

Remember, you’re not just training muscles: Training works for ALL tissue, not just muscles -- you are also rebuilding bones and connective tissue.

As you age, your tissues break down faster than build up unless you add physical activity. That activity increases your muscular capability and motor response, and also improves bone density and connective tissue fiber strength because those are rebuilding themselves as you train, just like the muscles are.

For example, that’s why strength training increases your bone density.
Using a leg press puts controlled stress on your leg bones and increases your bone density. You might not notice it except on an x-ray machine, but the likelihood that you’ll break those bones diminished greatly.

Our experts at Gym Source are here to help you train smart and stay strong as you get older. We have the information and fitness equipment you need to meet and crush your goals.

Plus, we can share the most important tips when starting or modifying a workout plan to help you avoid injury and the top tips to make sure you are exercising effectively AND safely. 

Learn how to incorporate an active lifestyle AND avoid injury with an Active Aging plan tailored to your goals - The Benefits of Active Aging: Exercise Smarter to Optimize Your Age.

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