My dad came to the U.S. recently for the first time. He was overweight thanks to his lifestyle. In Mexico he sits in a taxi almost all day long and doesn’t eat very well. He didn’t think he could lose the weight. When we went shopping I suggested he buy smaller pants, but he didn’t want to. But after some time here he understands why I made that suggestion.
My father joined our fitness program. He is now in his 60s, and he has never been more fit. He lost 45 pounds in six months, gained a lot of strength, improved his posture, is now at 12 percent body fat and loves to run or walk every day, when before those activities were difficult.
He had never lifted a weight before or exercised in a gym. It’s never too late to start, even at 60 year of age. However, proper form and a good program is important to stay safe and healthy.
During training we focus on working most big muscle groups in the body including the pectorals (chest), latissimus dorsi (back), biceps, triceps, deltoids (shoulders), abs, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus (butt). By knowing which muscles we are working on when we exercise, we can target them, avoiding doing movements that are not necessary and which may cause injury. We make sure we have an exercise for each muscle group and do three to four series of each exercise with 10 to 15 repetitions at least three times a day. Overloading the muscle correctly helped my dad improve his strength and avoid injury. If the muscle is not overloaded, there is no progress. However, if the overload is too much, injury may happen.
For many older adults, we stay away from high impact exercises to avoid any injuries. We isolate each muscle group, and we often work on balance with some equipment. Form is very important with each exercise to avoid overloading other muscles due to compensation.
A weight-lifting program not only helps people lose weight, it also helps build the muscles that we lose due to aging. As you probably know, we lose muscle as we get older. I know that many people want to stay young, and the only way to stay young and healthy is by exercising and weight lifting properly. Using periodization helps slow down the effects of aging.
Walking, running, hiking, biking and swimming are also beneficial in a different way. Weight lifting helps the heart become more efficient, but these exercises are more effective at that by targeting the heart and making it work to meet demand. The heart is a muscle that needs to be challenged just like the rest of the musculoskeletal system. When the heart is more efficient it sends more blood to the body, delivering more oxygen and nutrients and removing waste from the body. The heart does this when we are young, and we can continue that process as we age.
Proper stretching is important with any high impact exercise such as running to avoid scar tissue buildup and injuries. As we age we lose flexibility as well, and stretching helps to maintain a healthy range of motion to prevent injury. Many people can’t see the connection between tightness and injuries. Usually they blame weight lifting, running or any other activity they were doing. While is true that the activity may contribute to the injury, often the biggest factor is the tightness of the muscles.
It is essential to exercise properly to keep it as safe as possible and continue delivering results. My father has being exercising with me for nine months achieving great results, and he’s enjoying his life more with fewer limitations. He is improving his health and avoiding injury. Exercise properly at a later age is a need to stay independent and continue doing physically activities that we love to do.