I love to see Baby Boomers and seniors engaging in physical activity; I cringe to see the exercise mistakes they make!
So kudos if you’ve finally made movement a regular part of your life. Now, to maximize your efforts, here are 5 errors you’ll want to avoid:
Mistake #1: Cardio only
While cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise is vital for healthy aging, strength training is arguably more important to build and maintain muscles that protect from falls and support activities of daily living.
At least 2 days per week, work up to 30-minute sessions of resistance training with dumbbells, body weight, resistance tubing or machines at the gym.
Mistake #2: Weight training only
Yes, I’ve said it many times: you must keep your muscles strong! But research now proves that cardio is also vital as we age: even moderate exercise like walking lowers the risk of chronic diseases, heart trouble and mental decline.
Starting with 10-minute bouts daily, build up to 30 minutes of walking, biking, swimming, gardening or dancing at least 5 days a week.
Mistake #3: Incorrect form
Exercises are designed to work a specific muscle or muscle group. Doing exercises incorrectly can be a waste of your precious time or even lead to injury.
Educate yourself! At the gym, look at pictures on the equipment to see which muscles should be “feeling the burn,” or ask for advice. At home, research in magazines or online for proper form, then ask a family member or friend to monitor your movements.
Mistake #4: Not challenging your body
I see people doing the same routine day after day. But muscles need constant challenge with variety and increased intensity to grow and remain strong.
Vary your routine! If you do cardio first today, do weight training first tomorrow. Use dumbbells one day, resistance tubes the next. Throw in body-weight activities (push-ups, squats, etc.) or vary the order in which you do exercises. And most important: progressively increase the amount of resistance you’re using—starting with a low amount of weight/resistance, if you can easily do 20 reps of an exercise with good form, increase the weight by 10%. As long as you can do 8 good reps, start there and work your way up to 12 – 16 reps.
Mistake #5: Ignoring your diet
Food and fluids play an important role in physical activity, even for the casual exerciser. Muscles need energy for growth and repair. Ignoring nutrition can lower performance or cause illness.
Properly nourish yourself! Two hours before exercising, consume 20 oz. of cold water, then 7 – 10 oz. every 10 minutes while exercising. Eat a light snack one hour before activity, then some protein and carb within 30 minutes after for muscle growth (example: whey protein powder with cold water or cheese and fruit).
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