Here’s the thing about being over 50: Pretty much any moniker assigned to people our age begs the question, “Should I be insulted?
And most of the time, the answer is, “Probably.”
Think about it.
We go from being babies to toddlers to tweens, teens, millennials, Gen-X, etc., and responsible adults. No one takes offense at being called any of these, right? (Aside from millennials, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.)
Not so much with us over-50 people.
We get to choose from “seniors,” “older adults,” “elderly,” “mature adults” (note: maturity and adulthood do not necessarily go hand-in-hand), or, as a friend of mine who returned to college at the ripe old age of 40 discovered, “OP” for “old people.” Possibly the least offensive is Baby Boomers — mostly because it contains the word, “baby.”
This topic came to mind while wading through email pitches from people interested in guest posting (sorry, but I write them all myself).
He wrote that he had “plenty of fitness ideas for elderly people.”
Alrighty. Then maybe you should try Cremation Weekly, I thought to myself (I have no idea if such a publication exists).
Here’s the thing.
If I were wrapped up and entombed in a pyramid for 300 years, I still would not accept “elderly” as a word I’d want associated with me (why I suddenly became Egyptian in that example I have no idea).
For fun, I did a Google search for “names to call older adults” and came across a couple of hilarious articles.
They weren’t meant to be hilarious, but they were at least to me. One article, for example, states that off-limit, offensive words for older adults include “senior,” “fossil” and “biddy.”
We needed this said out loud?
I came to a horrible realization: People have a really hard time knowing what to call us! It’s apparently as baffling as Bigfoot, life on Mars and the reason why anyone in their right mind would pick the skeleton as an Olympic sport.
As a writer who frequently contributes to sites for people over 50, I am often given guidelines on what to say and not to say.
The conclusion, at least for writers, is to simply say, [your name here], [age], and leave any term of endearment completely out of it.
Thankfully, now that we resolved that issue the world can continue rotating on its axis.
So fitness… How can you get in shape the fastest? Great question.
I’ve narrowed the field down to three general concepts, all of which benefit you in a number of different ways — multitasking moves, if you will, for various reasons.
1. Focus on multi-joint, compound exercises
Also known as compound moves, these exercises involve more than one joint, such as squats, dips, chest presses and step-ups. Squats involve the hip and knee joints, for example, dips and chest presses use the shoulder and elbow joints, and and step-ups use hips and knees.
Each of these burns more calories than single joint exercises such as biceps curls, or machines that isolate one single joint such as the leg extension (which puts a lot of stress on the knees and is usually not a great idea if you have any type of knee issue). And, because you’re working more than one muscle group as well, you speed up your workout, too.
Possibly most importantly, they more closely mimic activities you’d do in real life such as squatting to pick up your small grandchild off the floor.
2. Add intervals
I’ve talked about intervals so much you’re probably tired of hearing about them, so feel free to brew some tea while I talk to everyone who hasn’t yet heard about them.
Okay, so for everyone else… Intervals make the list because they burn more calories faster than steady-state cardio by creating an “after burner” effect. By alternating bouts of intense exercise with “rest” or base level effort, you burn more calories after you’re done with your workout as your body slowly returns to its pre-workout state. You may notice this in warmer weather, especially, when you continue sweating after you’ve showered and need another shower because of it.
Don’t complain. It’s your body smoking out a bunch of fat.
Including one or two interval sessions a week help you get more bang for your fitness buck.
Here’s a simple example of how to do it:
Use cardio of your choice, be it walking, running, rowing, biking, or elliptical trainer:
Warm-up: 5 minutes easy pace, cardio of your choice, then:
- 30 seconds easy pace
- 20 seconds moderately hard pace
- 10 seconds as fast as you can go (adjust according to your fitness level)
- Repeat FIVE or more times — give or take, depending on your fitness level — without stopping (fewer if you’re a newbie)
- Cool down by walking around for two minutes and stretch
3. Push for Power
We think of “power” as something reserved for superheros, but in fact, it’s a fitness parameter we lose as we age and can wreak havoc if we ignore it. Simply defined, power is strength plus speed.
For example, getting across the street before the light turns red and you’re run over by an over-anxious Uber driver involves using power.
The key, however, is to first establish a strength foundation. Then add the speed component. Here’s a simple routine you can practice at home:
Use a sturdy box next to a wall or railing for balance support or the lowest step in a flight of stairs. Make sure the top has a nonskid surface on both the bottom and the top. Maintain good posture and step fully onto and off of the box with each repetition, using balance support if necessary.
- Step onto and off of the step, leading with the right foot. Step up (right), up (left), down (right), down (left); repeat 2 times.
- Repeat, leading with the left foot.
- To address power, repeat the full sequence by stepping up as quickly as possible while retaining good form. Step down under control at a lower speed.
STEP-UP WITH KNEE LIFT:
- Step onto the box with the right foot; swing left knee up to 90 degrees.
- Bring left leg back down to the ground; repeat four times stepping up with right foot.
- Repeat four times stepping up with the left foot.
- For a greater challenge, rise onto the toes when swinging the knee up to 90 degrees.
- To address power, repeat the sequence lifting the knee to 90 degrees as quickly as possible each time.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FITNESS HACK? Do you have a way to get your workout done faster without losing benefits? Let me know in the comments section below… I’d love to hear form you!
Other posts you may enjoy:
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Your Ageless Body Coach,