I may not like the wrinkles, the age spots, or changing eyesight that comes as I get older, but feeling limited in my movement really makes me feel old. And I don’t like it one bit! I know that the changes in an aging body make it more difficult to remain spry. But even with that knowledge, I refuse to believe that I must feel limited in my movement. When I can’t move the way I want, I feel less able-bodied. I also feel less capable of dealing with the demands of my life.
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I think we all end up searching for ways to regain our “youthful” movement. And while building strength and sustaining our conditioning are vital for movement and mobility as we age, simply focusing on lifting weights and getting our cardio is not enough. We need to be practicing our movement, agility, coordination, and flexibility on regular basis. Doing so keeps us limber and moving with ease!
Here are my top six tips for moving younger!
Hydrate, eat healthy, and move!
Our tissues get “sticky” when they are dehydrated. To keep them supple, we need to be drinking water and eating healthy. In addition to water, we want to be consuming fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats keep our muscles, tissues, and joints healthy and vibrant. Movement is also key. You can think of movement as a means of “lubricating” our tissues. (Note: if you have a medical condition, be sure to check in with your doctor about any nutritional changes.)
Bend, twist, and stretch daily!
Isolating and then stretching muscles like the hamstring, hip flexor, and quadriceps are helpful. But moving the body through its natural lines of motion is even better. Small, gentle, and slow movements loosens what is tight and “sticky” and helps bring us “back home” into our bodies. Keeping our bodies vital and mobile. When we can move comfortably, we feel more ready to deal with the stresses of life.
For those who have diseases or illnesses (e.g., Osteoporosis) that can be impacted by exercise and twisting/bending motions, be sure to check in with your doctor before starting any type of bending, twisting, stretching movements. It is always important to incorporate your medical professional’s guidance in your exercise program.
Practice balance and coordination
Use it or lose it! I use this phrase often to describe what happens to our bodies when we become sedentary and set in our movement patterns. We eventually lose what we don’t use. If we don’t practice balance and coordination, we are more apt to fall and feel less physically capable. It doesn’t take much to regain what we have lost, so start practicing now. Practices like yoga and Tai Chi are great ways to improve our coordination and balance. These practices are restful and rejuvenating as well – a bonus to moving young again!
There are many simple ways to practice balance and coordination. Be sure to practice in a way that is safe for your body.
Rest and relax to clear stress
Chronic stress floods our bodies with stress hormones that if not cleared, set up camp in our muscles and tissues. Prolonged stress leads to tension in our tissues. Tense bodies and minds move with limitation.
Stress also causes us to contract muscles. When we are stressed on a chronic basis, we are training our muscles to stay in a contracted and short condition. Eventually, we lose range of motion and suffer chronically tight muscles. Not fun!
Because our bodies are less efficient in clearing stress (aka the hormone cortisol) as we get older, we need to be more deliberate about getting rest days. Additionally, the stress alarms in our brain don’t turn off as quickly, continuing to flood our bodies with adrenaline well after the stressor has abated. We experience the effects of stress longer. Practices like meditation and breath work can train our brains and bodies to react to stress in more positive ways.
The right amount of sleep keeps us moving and feeling young
Sleep is important for our survival. I once read that we lose 40% of our mental efficiency after one night of inadequate sleep. After 6 nights of inadequate sleep (according to the article), our bodies go into distress. Chronic inadequate sleep messes with our hormones, mental efficiency, health, and outlook on life. Try moving “young” when you are exhausted. Doesn’t work so well, does it? Get those 7.5 hours of sleep each night. (7.5 hours is a good starting point; play with what you need to feel rested in the morning.).
Consider massage or stretch therapy
There are many means of self massage and certainly many ways to learn how to stretch on your own. However, if you have chronic tension and stiffness that you are unable to alleviate on your own, you may want to see an expert practitioner. Look for licensed massage therapists who specialize in therapeutic forms of massage. Certified stretch therapists are also an excellent option and are becoming more prevalent in the wellness industry. Chiropractors and sports medicine professionals typically have techniques to address tension and restricted range of motion in the body.
If you are unsure how to get started with a fitness program that helps you be strong, healthy, and able-bodied, we can help. At Strand Fitness, we specialize in highly personalized programming for the “slightly older” body.
Strand Fitness is located in Downtown Wheaton, IL. We also serve Glen Ellyn, Winfield, Carol Stream and Chicago Western Suburbs.
Our complimentary fitness consultations help you put together a fitness plan. Schedule your consultation by contacting Pam (630-653-8152; firstname.lastname@example.org)
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