Neuromuscular Therapist Carol Welch-Baril described movement as medicine and I think that’s a pretty good way to look at it. Of course how people move changes as we get older.
Nancy Greig is in her mid 60s and answered my question about her marathon running from Quebec, where she’s currently on a cycling tour.
“I do run the Houston half marathon every year,” she said. “Back in the late ‘90s I ran three marathons – but the last one was no fun so I just do halves now. I am just more careful now – I don’t train as hard and back off at the first sign of injury or pain. I want to be able to keep running as long as possible. Also, it’s a big social thing for me now. I always run with friends.”
For those wanting to be active, the National Institute on Aging names four basic categories of exercise and physical activity — endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. The goal is to do something from each of the categories to get the most benefit and help you do all the fun things you want to do.
This refers to aerobic activities which increase your breathing and heart rate. Building your endurance makes it easier to carry out many of your everyday activities. Endurance exercises include:
· Brisk walking or jogging
· Yard work (mowing, raking, digging)
Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. These exercises also are called “strength training” or “resistance training” and can help you heft your grocery bags inside.
· Lifting weights
· Using a resistance band
· Using your own body weight
Balance exercises help prevent falls. Many lower-body strength exercises will also improve balance. Balance exercises include:
· Standing on one foot
· Heel-to-toe walk
· Tai Chi
Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities. Flexibility exercises include:
· Shoulder and upper arm stretch
· Calf stretch
How you fuel your body for exercise also should be fine-tuned as you age.
“Athletes over the age of 65 should be conscious of their hydration,” said Houston Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coach Catherine Kruppa. “Aging is accompanied by reduced thirst and increased excretion of water by the kidney, which ultimately lead to a state of dehydration. You should make sure that you drink enough so that your urine is light lemonade or clear colored.”
Kruppa also says that experts suggest that older athletes take in additional protein.
“The recommendation is 0.55–0.64 grams protein per pound of body weight (1.2–1.4 grams per kg) daily, which happens to be the protein recommendation for younger endurance athletes,” she said. “Pairing extra protein with strength training exercise can slow or possibly even help prevent the loss of muscle mass that occurs with age.”