Adapting Workouts as We Age

Adapting Workouts as We Age

Written by Sherry Sweitzer

I’m lucky because I have always enjoyed exercise. I became a group fitness instructor
back when high impact aerobics was actually a competitive sport! Crazy, right?!
Everyone was jumping, stepping and sliding their way to better health. Exercisers
craved and participated in heart pounding workouts, regardless of how their joints felt
afterwards. It wasn’t until I turned 50 that I realized it was time to modify my workouts.
For decades I had focused on what I enjoyed most, cardio and strength workouts, while
neglecting flexibility and mobility training. My body was less resilient post-workout and I
was always sore. I experienced lingering knee and lower back pain and my old injuries
kept resurfacing. I knew that in order to continue to exercise without sacrificing intensity,
I needed to train smarter.

I first swapped high impact workouts with lower impact options. I now include interval,
indoor cycling, rebounder (an individual trampoline), rowing and low impact classes into
my routine and found that these safer options were equally effective in raising my heart
rate. I modified my strength workouts to include Pilates, which honestly happened by
chance when I was invited to try a Pilates equipment class out. The class consisted of
people ranging in age from 20-70 who executed a sequence of moves using springs as
resistance with ease. They successfully maneuvered themselves into the required
positions while I struggled. My stiff muscles and joints prevented me from doing many of
the exercises because I had focused on aerobic endurance and heavy weight training
for so many years. It was clear that the exclusion of stretching and mobility exercises
from my exercise regimen was to blame and I needed to do something to change it.

But why? Being able to perform functional exercises – those moves needed to
accomplish daily tasks – is key to exercising into our later years. Ideally, joints need to
move in an uninhibited motion so that greater muscular range may be achieved;
lengthening the muscles is equally important. Creating a workout to include joint
movement and stretching should be included in everyone’s exercise plan, regardless of
age. Training that includes a modality such as Pilates encompasses strength, flexibility,
mobility and balance moves, and can even be aerobic depending on the structure of the
class. It may also be done safely as one ages.

No matter your fitness level or age, it is important to incorporate cardiovascular,
strength and stretching/mobility moves into your workout. Be cognizant of what your
body is telling you as you age and modify accordingly. Age is inevitable but feeling old is preventable! Expanding your mindset and weekly routine as you age is crucial to your
fitness journey and overall health and wellbeing.

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