Healthy Aging

After having worked in the health and fitness industry for a few years now, I have come to realize that even more rewarding than working with kids, is to work with people in their 50s and beyond. All the while I have gathered some experience with a handful of clients who are in their 50s, one in his 70s and gentleman at the age of 82.

The great thing about training individuals in these age categories is the immediate visible increase in quality of life. It is important for them who start lifting weights to slow down, halt or even reverse many of the degenerative effects of aging, such as loss of muscle and strength, brittle bones, floppy ligaments, dysfunctional joints, and the decline of mobility and balance. Or to quote my former 82year old client with two artificial hip joints: “If I would not squat that weight, I would not be able to walk anymore”.

Obviously, the benefits are greater for those who start early and keep doing it. But in the end, everybody can get stronger and more powerful, improving health and quality of life with exercise and weight training.

What can happen during aging?

The process of aging is very complex. The following symptoms are some of the risks related to unhealthy aging and are based on the book: The Barbell Prescription: Strength Training for Life After 40. Which I recommend to anyone who is interested in fitness and healthy aging.

  • Metabolic Syndrome

The Metabolic Syndrome is a summary that encompasses loads of symptoms, findings, and disorders that occur together. The general physiological components are the following: Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Hypertension, Dyslipidemia, and Inflammation.

  • Sarcopenia and Osteopenia

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and osteopenia the loss of bone density. A sedentary lifestyle leads to the loss of muscle mass which then leads to some of the components of the Metabolic Syndrome. The vicious cycle affects other tissues as well, not just muscle. Tendons, ligaments, cartilage etc. We are becoming weaker and more susceptible to strain and injury.

  • Frailty

When elderly people are inactive, their strength and mobility decline.  Their bones become more brittle and the person will reach a point of zero exercise capacity. Unfortunately, that leaves people very weak and frail and often accompanied by chronic pain. This will allow people to get injured and very slow to heal. All the while, quality of life is rapidly declining.

Exercise is Medicine

A major solution to battle or even better prevent the negative symptoms of aging is exercise. There are countless and very well researched benefits of consistent physical activity. We have all read countless articles confirming this.  Obviously, these apply to older people as well. The type of exercise selection is the same as for younger people as well. Big multi-joint exercises, such as squats, presses, deadlifts, Chin-ups, Rows, and Lat-Pulldowns. This depends largely on the person’s injury history, mobility and age.  These factors will determine whether they might need any variations to these exercises.

Generally, the programming is not that different either. Less aggressive in weight increase, longer breaks in between sets and perhaps less frequent. But that all depends on the individual.

I assume, that you the reader are of the age from 25 to 40, more or less. And possibly already involved in some sort of training.  However, this text is more geared towards your mum and dad. The best you can do for them is to find a competent coach who can help them train, get stronger and enjoy their lives to the fullest.

Let me know your ideas, thoughts, and experiences regarding training people in their 50s and beyond. Please write them in the comments below or as a message. And share this post with one of your senior friends or family members, who needs some help. Remember, sharing is caring. Thank you.

4 thoughts on “Healthy Aging

  1. Thank you after reading your article, I think I should try by myself to see how much I can do for my body at the age of 65. Could you please send me the details about the training course and timetables.

    Liked by 1 person

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