Why Is Fitness Important As We Get Older?
There are so many reasons why fitness and exercising as you grow older, (or mature), is such an important thing to do. This is a ‘broad brush’ blog which just gives you some basic reasons why you need to get your trainers on, get into some comfortable clothes and get moving!
As you grow older your muscles naturally atrophy, that is to say they start to waste away or a gentler description; start to generally decline in effectiveness and lose vigour through underuse or neglect. This decline is a natural part of ageing, but we can do something about it. Starting around age 25, this condition, called sarcopenia, sets in. After age 45, you lose approximately 1 percent of your total muscle mass per year if you do not do targeted exercises to keep it. By the time you reach age 65, the weakness and lack of tone related to sarcopenia becomes significant. For women around the peri menopause and then particularly menopause this is accelerated as is a loss of bone mass… this is a whole other topic!
Why does this matter?
Without significant muscle mass, your metabolism suffers. Muscle burns more calories than fat. A body with a higher proportion of muscle burns a greater number of calories at rest in a more efficient manner. As a result, you have an easier time managing your weight. Being overly fat – even if you are of normal weight -- increases your risk of certain diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes. Loss of muscle mass can also lead to loss of function. It may be harder to do the simple day to day things you need to do such as chores, play with the kids or grandchildren, gardening, carry the shopping or walk up the stairs Never mind all the fun stuff you might like to do. As you continue to age, loss of muscle impedes balance and can cause dangerous falls and limit your ability to care for yourself.
What to do about it.
How fast you lose muscle mass and function depends on how you care for your body. Taking part in regular exercise, particularly strength training slows the rate at which you lose muscle and can actually increase muscle mass. Ideally should do this ‘functional strength training’ at least two-days per week. In a typical gym setting this should include at least one exercise to address the back, legs, chest, arms, abdominals and shoulders with eight to 10 repetitions. The weight you use should bring you to fatigue by the last one or two repetitions. Give yourself at least 48 hours between strength-training sessions so your muscles can recover and grow stronger. As you progress, add an additional day and additional sets of exercises. If the activity becomes too easy, ramp up the weights so you continue to reach fatigue by the last couple of repetitions. If you opt for a traditional gym environment you really should combine your strength-training routine with a regular cardiovascular fitness plan that has you moving at a moderate intensity at least 150 minutes per week, you need to be out of breath and start to break a sweat!
Or you could come to Kettlercise class or a HiiT or if you’re a mum, come to a Mums, Babes and Toddler class! In all of those we address all of the above. We perform ‘functional’ exercises, that is those exercises that will often mimic the sorts of things we do in real life, with weights (Kettlebells or Dumbbells) and we always have a cardio element to the class! These are fun, effective classes that will help you stay in shape and help you age, or ‘mature’ in the best possible way!