Matt Dryden: Fitness at all Ages
I have been asked many times, what ages can kids start lifting? The simplest answer is, It depends.
First, the definition of lifting would have to be defined. Are we talking sport specific lifting, powerlifting, crossfit, or strongman? I think sometimes we can forget how active many of us were when we were younger. Think about all the kids who grew up on farms or had physical jobs hand loading hay, driving in fence posts, pulling out fence posts, carrying 50-75 lb feed bags, cutting wood for the winter, etc.. Couldn’t that be defined as lifting? I don’t remember a time when I was younger when I thought that was easy work. My body sure didn’t think it was easy work. Many mornings I woke up with sore muscles.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, many kids are not experiencing that same type of work/lifting that we grew up with. Oddly enough this “heavy work” is actually pretty important to the development of children.
Heavy work is defined as tasks that involve heavy resistance for the muscles and joints and include activities and chores such as climbing trees, rolling a snowball for a snowman, army crawling, digging in the dirt, shoveling snow, pulling laundry out of a washer/dryer, etc. And it turns out, these seemingly simple activities are essential for our body and brain development. Who knew all those chores our parents gave us were actually GOOD for us?! Heavy work not only helps children develop physically, but can also help with their mental processing and help children regulate and calm their own bodies. (Google “heavy work” to find more examples and benefits for kids).
Even now when I compare gym strong (gaining strength in the gym with specific muscle movements) to real world strong (explosive multi-muscle movements, ie. Construction work, farming etc.) it really is two different worlds but both require physical exertion and lifting of heavy items. So this leads me to believe any age is a good time to start training the body in good lifting habits and a good workout habit that the kids could use for the rest of their lives.
Harvard Health Publishing advises children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, most of which should be devoted to aerobic exercise. They also should do vigorous exercise and strength training, such as push-ups or gymnastics, on at least three days every week.
As adults and we transition into our adulting years and life becomes more and more hectic, fitness seems to be the one thing most just don’t make time for. Be honest with yourselves. When is the last time you worked out?
Every week adults should at least get 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking--a pace that would allow you to have a broken conversation with someone--or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) of vigorous exercise like running. You could also use an equivalent combination of both.
When doing strength-training you want to make sure to work all major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms—at least two days a week. Strength training may involve lifting weights, using resistance bands, or exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, in which your bodyweight furnishes the resistance.
Many people will join a fitness center in the winter months and then take the summers off because we convince ourselves that we will be just as active outdoors. The funny thing is when I have talked to many of the returning members in the fall, they are surprised they feel as though they have to start over gaining back the strength that they had before they left the fitness center that spring. It’s not that we won't be busy doing fun outdoor activities in the summer months, it’s that we are not necessarily pushing our muscles to do the work to maintain and get stronger with these activities.
As working adults, under 65, many insurance companies such as Health Partners, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medica, Preferred One, and WPS, etc. will offer up to $20.00/month back if you come in 12 or more times a month. That could be ½ your monthly membership.
As we age into our senior years, we are hopeful that we will be able to retire. As we age, it is more important than ever to make sure we are staying active.
Research shows regular exercise improves the following:
- Immune Function. A healthy, strong body fights off infection and sickness more easily and more quickly.
- Cardio-Respiratory and Cardiovascular Function. Frequent physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Bone Density and Risk of Osteoporosis. Strength training exercises protects against loss in bone mass. Better bone density will reduce the risk of osteoporosis, lower the risk of falling and prevent broken bones. Post-menopausal women can lose as much as 2 percent bone mass each year, and men also lose bone mass as they age.
- Gastrointestinal Function. Regular exercise helps boost your metabolism and promotes the efficient elimination of waste and encourages digestive health.
- Chronic Conditions and Cancer. Physical activity lowers risk of serious conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis and colon cancer, to name a few. It also helps in the management of high cholesterol and arthritis pain.
A consistent exercise schedule is also associated with decreased mortality and age-related morbidity in older adults. In addition, a study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined exercise in the elderly and found that training led to improvements in functional reach and balance and reduced the participants' fear of falling.
It has been studied that elderly people are sometimes unable to tolerate aerobic exercise routines on a regular basis due to lack of endurance. This is based mainly because of the changes in the cardiovascular system that have significant effects on performance, it has been estimated that 50% of endurance loss can be related to decreased muscle mass. The old saying, use it or lose it, really applies as the body ages.
The ideal senior exercise regimen consists of three components
Aerobic and Endurance Exercises
Physicians recommend 30 minutes of cardiorespiratory endurance exercise each day for your elderly mom or dad. This means getting their heart rate up and breathing faster. Walking, cycling and swimming are all examples of cardio/endurance exercises. If the person tires easily, especially those who are resuming a routine or just starting to exercise, it is perfectly acceptable to do three 10-minute periods of exercise daily.
Strength and Resistance Training
Strength training uses and rebuilds muscles with repetitive motion exercises. Your elderly parent can do strength training with weights, resistance bands, nautilus machines or by using walls, the floor and furniture for resistance. Bodyweight exercises or calisthenics such as lunges, sit-ups and leg raises are also convenient options since they do not require any specialized equipment. Two to three strength/resistance training workouts a week will provide the greatest benefits. Exercise all muscle groups by doing 1 to 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions at moderate intensity. Individuals can progressively increase the size of weights used during workouts as their strength builds.
Stretching and Flexibility Exercises
Stretching is vital to an exercise regimen. This helps muscles warm up and cool down gradually and improves and maintains flexibility, prevents injury, and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness. Activities like yoga or Pilates can provide both useful stretches and strength training because they focus on isolating and developing different muscle groups. A number of exercise programs focus on developing a strong ‘core,' a term which refers to the set of muscles connecting the inner stomach to the lower back and spine. Because the core muscles provide the foundation for all movement and strength, having a strong core can help with all movement, encourage better posture and reduce all over muscle pain.
The two largest fitness programs for adults over 65 are SilverSneakers and Silver & Fit. These two programs offer a FREE fitness center membership and also a free class that is designed for seniors to have fun and move to the music through a variety of exercises designed to increase muscle strength, range of movement and activities for daily living.
The bottom line is, fitness is important for everyone at any age.
Don't forget that the Body Shop Fitness Center is waiving their activation fee for all new members who sign up for a 12-month membership. Those who have previously been members and have already paid their activation fees will receive a free shaker bottle when signing up for a new 12-month membership.
About Matt Dryden: Matt has been offering personal training services in fitness and nutrition for over 12 years. He began his interest in Health and Fitness while working as a Correctional Officer and Police Chief when he realized that in this profession that those men and women should have the fitness level of being able to protect and serve the people he has sworn to do so. Matt went on to become a certified personal trainer and began educating and helping fellow officers in setting and working toward their goals in fitness.
Matt started his gym, The Body Shop Fitness Centers, in Shell Lake in 2007 and now offers locations in Shell Lake, Spooner, and Trego, Wisconsin. These locations offer a wide variety of fitness training opportunities unique to each location. To find out more, visit The Body Shop Fitness Center website or Facebook page.