Work­outs for boomers

You may not be able to keep your looks as you get older, but you can keep your strength and bal­ance.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SENIOR - By WINA STUR­GEON

IT’S HARD to ac­cept mid­dle age. For many folks, it al­ways seems to be about 10 years away. But if you think of liv­ing un­til you’re 90, then it clearly fol­lows that mid­dle age starts around 45.

Here’s the hard part: when you’re that age – or older – you need to work out for func­tion, rather than looks.

You may be im­me­di­ately con­cerned about the cos­met­ics of un­der­arm jig­gle or love han­dles, but build­ing strength in the mus­cles un­der that flab (tri­ceps and obliques) is far more im­por­tant.

The tough­est fact to face is that at midlife, the hu­man body rarely has the same po­ten­tial to be as tight and toned as it did 20 years ear­lier.

But as your body goes through these changes, your in­ter­ests change as well.

You be­come less con­cerned about how you look in swim wear, be­cause it’s more im­por­tant to be able to take a full flight of stairs quickly, or carry a 18kg child or a heavy bag of pet food.

You might not be able to keep your looks as you get older, but you can keep your strength and bal­ance.

In­creas­ing your strength and bal­ance will help pre­vent falls.

Falls are the big­gest cause of disability in those 65 and older, with bro­ken hips and trau­matic brain in­juries top­ping the list, so it makes good sense to work out for real life fit­ness, rather than some imag­ined cos­metic ideal.

There are also other im­por­tant con­sid­era-

Weight-bear­ing ex­er­cises build strength whether you’re a young adult or a se­nior cit­i­zen. tions: hun­dreds of stud­ies show that those who train to be func­tional will usu­ally heal faster af­ter a fall, and will also have less chance of se­ri­ous in­jury if they do fall.

You don’t have to join a gym or hire a per- sonal trainer to con­di­tion your body to be more func­tional.

Make it a part of your ev­ery­day life. For ex­am­ple, don’t sit down to put on your socks or pants.

Do it while stand­ing up. This, of course, means you’ll have to bal­ance while stand­ing on one foot, then the other.

At first, most people won’t be ca­pa­ble of the bal­ance re­quired to per­form this ac­tion.

They will be wob­bly or will have to “dab” with the other foot to stay up­right.

That’s OK. Learn­ing to bal­ance on each foot while the rest of the body is ac­tively mov­ing to put on cloth­ing is ex­tremely func­tional.

You’ll in­stinc­tively learn how to han­dle the mass of your body weight in nu­mer­ous po­si­tions.

It’s phys­i­cal knowl­edge that can help you pre­vent a fall if you do get off bal­ance.

Weight-bear­ing ex­er­cises build strength whether you’re a young adult or a se­nior cit­i­zen.

These move­ments can be as sim­ple as ly­ing down on the floor and do­ing push-ups, or hold­ing dumb­bells on your shoul­ders and do­ing squats.

In fact, if you search the topic of ex­er­cises for older adults, you’ll find hun­dreds of links to var­i­ous kinds of fit­ness rou­tines.

Choose a pro­gramme that elim­i­nates your weak­nesses.

If your mus­cles are stiff and in­flex­i­ble, as they of­ten be­come when you don’t move around a lot, look for a rou­tine that ex­plains how to warm up and stretch.

Keep your mus­cles flex­i­ble and pli­able. Pur­chase sev­eral pairs of dumb­bells of dif- fer­ent weight, and search for “dumb­bell ex­er­cises” on­line.

Put to­gether a rou­tine that works ma­jor mus­cle groups such as the front and back of arms and thighs.

You can even use elas­tic cord­ing or rub­ber tub­ing to ex­er­cise at home.

This stuff is sold by the foot at many out­doors shops and phys­i­cal ther­apy cen­tres. Buy a 5m length and tie a small loop at one end, and a loop at the other end large enough to slip your foot into.

Put the small loop around an in­door door knob, bring the rest un­der the door, and shut the door.

Now put your foot into the large loop. Fac­ing the door, step back un­til the elas­tic is tight, then slide that foot back­wards.

This will build strength in the ham­strings at the back of the thigh.

Pulling the elas­tic tight again, grip the large loop in a fist and lift up, do­ing a bi­ceps curl.

Turn your hand with the fin­gers down and slowly lower the taut elas­tic. This works the tri­ceps at the back of the arm.

“Couch crunches” strengthen the ab­dom­i­nals, and are easy to do.

Sim­ply place your lower legs on a couch, cross your arms over your chest, and lift your up­per body.

De­sign sev­eral short work­out rou­tines and try to do one at least ev­ery other day.

How­ever, the best pos­si­ble plan for ev­ery mid-ager is to do some ex­er­cise ev­ery day.

That way, you will live to grow old with­out ac­tu­ally seem­ing old, which is a pretty good deal. — McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Flex those mus­cles:

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