Not Helping As Much As You Think!
Most of the Baby Boomers I work with want to lose weight, tone up, and have more energy. Unfortunately, they’ve been unsuccessful at achieving these goals, and here’s why–five common errors folks over 50 make with their fitness programs:
1. Walking only.
Don’t get me wrong, walking is great exercise! This cardiovascular workout helps control blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood fats. It also lifts your mood and supports healthy brain aging. But to maintain strength, balance, and self-sufficiency, resistance training is critical for Boomers. We lose muscle mass from our 30s on—as a result, the percent of body fat increases steadily into our later years. The only way to counter this phenomenon and keep your muscles strong is with strength or resistance training. So, put in your walking on most days of the week, and lift weights twice weekly.
2. Not drinking enough water.
There are a number of reasons folks don’t think it’s important to drink lots of water—incontinence, filling up on other beverages, or just forgetting. But water intake is vital for heathy aging. Ingesting sufficient amounts supports your immune system, helps with weight control, and maintains proper kidney function, which in turn aids in the removal of wastes and environmental poisons. To personalize the general recommendation of drinking 8 glasses of water per day, use the urine test: if you’re urinating every couple of hours, and it’s the pale color of lemonade, you’re in the ball park with fluid intake!
3. Using weights that are too light.
I see folks at the gym mindlessly performing dozens of repetitions with light weights. This will not help! Your goal is to gain muscular strength, and in order to do that, you need to stress your muscles. Using heavy weights and “pumping” to fatigue (in a maximum of 12 – 15 reps) is the effective way to gain strength and muscle tone. Once your muscles get stronger, up the weight to continue building muscle fibers. And ladies, I don’t want to hear any excuses about getting bulky, unattractive muscles—we just don’t have the right amount of specific hormones or muscle mass to turn into Popeye!
4. Skimping on carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are not the enemy! Ingesting enough carbs is critical to feed your brain and have energy for exercise. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are carbohydrates, and they provide the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals needed to fight chronic inflammation, now connected with everything from Alzherimer’s and cancer to diabetes and heart disease. The carbohydrates you need to nix are the refined ones, including sugar in all forms and products made of refined flour.
5. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, sitting the other 15.5 waking hours, and expecting to be healthy.
It now seems that just meeting the recommended exercise guideline of 30 minutes per day, five days per week, is not the prescription for good health! You also have to look at the amount of sitting time. Spending too many hours on your bottom leads to an increase in waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar, and “bad” fats, and a decrease in healthy blood fats. Unfortunately, even a daily hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity won’t outdo the negative aspects of being sedentary the rest of the time. The current recommendation: break up sitting throughout the day– stand and get active for a few minutes every hour. After you achieve this goal, add your regularly scheduled exercise bouts.
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