I was speaking with both my father and my soon to be father-in-law recently, and we were discussing aches, pains, as well as loss of strength and flexibility from our younger days. Both my dad and Phil (soon to be father-in-law) have been dealing with old knee injuries. Phil who is in his early sixties, is an avid skier and cyclist. And my dad, who’s in his mid-seventies, was an avid runner turned cyclist. They are both dealing with knee pain. They both continue to go to the gym.
The biggest contributor to happiness in mature ages is physical health. The later years of life can be full of free time to fill with fitness activities, such as going to the gym. But, it can also be a hard time to figure out what to do with your time. A greater danger is becoming sedentary. Not only does moving and working out help your musculoskeletal system, but it also:
- Can help prevent heart disease
- Can help prevent or slow the progression of diabetes
- Can help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s
- Can help prevent or slow the progression of Parkinson’s
- Can help prevent or slow the progression of arthritis
- Stimulate brain and central nervous system activity
If there is one thing I am passionate about, it is: moving, working out, and being active. I don’t care what you do, but you should do something: walking, rock climbing, playing sports, pilates, resistance training, dance, yoga, or tai chi, etc.
Move, and move often. My best advice is to do a variety of activities:
- Put your body in new and different positions weekly
- Strength train multiple exercises
- Train different muscle groups
- Work range of motion on all over your major joints
- Work on flexibility of all your major muscle groups
Move, and move often.
I know it can also be intimidating to go to a gym or hard to get motivated. You might not know what to do, or you do go and you do the same exercises all the time, or maybe you just don’t like gyms.
Guess what? Those aren’t barriers, those are excuses. There is always a way around it:
- There are so many different types of gyms now. There are even ones that cater to the maturing athlete. Find one you like with a friendly staff and a good clientele that you get along with.
- Join a class, boot camp, or make a plan with a friend – something to make yourself more accountable. If you have to meet Sally at 8 AM or you know coach is going to give you a hard time for missing Thursday, that motivation becomes an external stimulus.
- Personal trainers, physical therapists (I’m biased but I think my profession is the best!), and classes can get you started, even put you on a program so you get more comfortable and can build a library of exercises.
- Classes or different activities can be a great way to learn new movements. Many gyms, fitness place, dance/pilates/yoga/barre studios have discounted first months. Try something new.
- You are never too mature to learn something new or make it a bonding activity with your significant other or long time friend.
- There are boot camps/yoga classes that take place in parks or you can walk/jog/bike outside, rock climb outside, and hike.
- Find a green place, do some push ups, lunges, stretches (such as the easy one below).
You are never too mature to learn something new.
As always, I hope this helps! If you have any questions or would like to read about certain topics, send us an email at TeamSP@SportsPerformancePT.com.
-Dr. Nick Schroeder, PT, DPT
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