How many times have you thought, “I want to improve my fitness program, but NOT the hard core one I did when I was younger?” As a baby boomer or older adult are you looking for intelligent, effective, yet comfortable exercise options? Do you worry about losing cognitive skills, getting hurt, gaining weight, losing strength, and not being able to do activities you love? At the same time, do you like to know that your workout and exercise choices are smart ones? Perhaps even cutting edge and trending?
In this article, I wish to provide three principles or fitness trends for creating a fitness program for baby boomers. These are some key themes that are currently trending for people in their midlife. These guiding principles will help you create the best workouts for your body.
1. Choose Movement Patterns That Enhance Cognitive And Physical Skills
- Why not get a twofer benefit with each exercise choice? Look for opportunities to cross the midline of your body with an arm, leg, or both at once.
- Move to music that has polyrhythms or beats more complex than a straight count.
- Attend workout classes where the instructor cues patterns. The brain work involved in interpreting verbal commands and following choreography literally increases your dendrites, ganglia, and axons.
2. Choose Functional Movement Options
- Ask yourself whether the moves you are choosing relate to activities of daily living (ADL). For instance, incorporate dynamic balance moves, not solely static ones, since we normally need to balance while moving and not holding still. Recognize walking as the ultimate and primary balance and functional move. Take walks. And when you do, test your balance by intermittently slowing your stride—super slow. Then speed up—super fast!
- Let’s say you have a plan to travel. Keep in mind that especially in foreign countries, you’ll be climbing stairs; walking on uneven terrain; navigating unfamiliar environments; carrying loads; and dealing with fatigue and time changes. Plan to be your active best when traveling by making stepping up and down part of your workout program. You can also lift your legs up and over things so you’ll be ready for those low walls abroad. Practice twisting and turning while carrying weights (luggage, souvenirs, small grandchildren, etc.).
- Do you include posture work in your routine? If not, it’s tiiiiime! Which do you think will have a bigger impact on your ability to age actively—having popping fresh biceps (single joint strength training isolation move) or having a strong core and back that keep you lifted and long (the opposite of stooped with rounded shoulders)?
3. Challenge Your Balance
Use balance work as a move itself or as a stance option for any standing move. Not only can you incorporate balance moves into your workout but also improve your balance while working your upper body or doing standing stretches. How? By narrowing your stance. Don’t always set your feet shoulder width apart and parallel. Instead, place one foot directly in front of the other in what’s called a “tandem” position. Now try those tricep kickbacks or upper body stretch. Trickier right? Whenever possible, choose a narrow vs. wide base of support.
Are you already rethinking your program? This just involves less working one muscle at a time and more enhancing your overall ability to move and continue doing the activities you enjoy.
How Will The Principles Help?
If you weave in even one or two of these themes, you will be able to do the following:
- Create targeted fitness programs that are low-risk yet yield high rewards.
- Offer moves specific to your cognitive and physical needs as an older adult.
- Move from stuck or unstarted to strong.