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You Can Teach an Old Body Fit Tricks

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/28/2011 2:17 PM   :  34 comments   :  17,507 Views

I've found that as I get older, making sure I take good care of my body and get enough rest is very important. I used to be able to do a hard workout and get up the next day and do it all over again. I never used to stretch after workouts (shame on me), but I've had some injuries in the recent past that reinforce the need to be kind to my body and give it what it needs. "I'm not a kid anymore," is the excuse I've always made, assuming that as I age, gains in fitness won't come as easily and I'll have to take even better care of myself. But according to some new research, part of my logic might be a little faulty.

A well-rounded fitness routine is important for any healthy individual, regardless of age. It's easy to assume that as we get older, becoming fitter gets more difficult. But a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research came to a different conclusion. The study compared fitness gains of women in their 20s with women in their 60s. Participants completed a 13-week exercise program consisting of cardio, whole-body strength training and stretching. Each person's fitness level was assessed before the program began, and the intensity was increased incrementally as each person adapted to the current workout.

There was no difference in the intensity progression of the strength workouts between the two groups, and the intensity of cardio workouts actually progressed more quickly in the group of older adults. No significant injuries or pain were reported in either group, which lead researchers to conclude that healthy older women can increase the intensity of their exercise routines in the same way as younger women.

This isn't to say that every woman 60 and older should jump right off of the couch into an intense exercise routine. It's important to know where you're starting from, so that you can develop a plan to gain strength and improve fitness in a way that's safe. What You Need To Know About Fitness After 60 gives you a good starting point.

What do you think? Are you surprised by the results of this study? Why or why not?


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Comments

  • ESKINNER2
    34
    I am now 65 and I have not excerised as I should. Since joining SP, I am exercising a little but want to increase the time and try other exercise program. I learn from this blog and am encouraged to get moving. - 7/21/2012   4:39:44 PM
  • 33
    I wonder if they screened out seniors with rheumatoid arthritis. If they didn't then I am truly surprised by the results. However, if they did screen out the arthritics then the study is pretty meaningless, since a large portion of us senior women have RA or OA to contend with. Once the arthritis started to eat away at my feet and ankles, exercising quickly reached a whole new level of difficulty. I am 63 and in the last year or two the pain in the arthritic joints has definitely become a significant stumbling block to my progress and cannot be just ignored. - 7/21/2012   1:33:37 PM
  • SHELTERED1
    32
    Thanks so much for the inspiration. I'm encouraged. - 3/15/2012   1:50:22 PM
  • COCOA-LOVER
    31
    Hey we share the same name! weird . . .and I am running my 11th marathon in two days...funny. - 5/4/2011   7:40:08 AM
  • 30
    thank you, for great blog, I am in my 60's and feel quite well. I have a lot of desire for exercise, but due to such arthritis, I just am stumped. I even have trouble, at the pool. Looking forward to surgery. not too many people say that. - 5/2/2011   2:13:05 PM
  • GAARAMA
    29
    Yes I too am in my sixties and I can say that I am healthier,and stronger since exercise became part of my daily routine.
    Thank you for this article. - 5/1/2011   10:07:01 AM
  • 28
    My mother, who has been moving all of her life, is in excellent shape. She is 75 years old and just keeps going and going. I've been more sedentary and at times it is a struggle to move and I'm 49. Maybe by the time I'm 75 I'll be more like my mother.
    TerrBear - 4/30/2011   8:36:09 PM
  • 27
    Very encouraging for me! - 4/30/2011   8:03:54 PM
  • 26
    I've never been athletic my whole life. Led a rather sedentary life doing office work. It wasn't until five years ago, when I was 51 and found myself 40 lbs overweight, that I knew I had to start exercising and watching better what I ate. That's when I joined a gym, got a personal trainer that showed me how to work my weigh around the gym doing 2-3 hr strength training workouts 3 days a week. Eventually, I picked up running. This opened a world to me that I never imagined. Never dreamed I could do all that I ended up doing. I found I was stronger than I thought I could ever be. I've been in three weightlifting competitions and got silver and gold medals in all three. I love being strong. It's funny that I'm doing all this in my 50s! I'm more fit in my 50s than when I was in my 20s, 30s or 40s! I'm planning on keeping this up well into my 60s and 70s and 80s! - 4/30/2011   7:33:46 AM
  • 25
    I'm 61 and I don't think of myself as "old" at all. I know it is SO much easier for me to do exercise at 166# now than when I started and was 214#. Carrying all that extra fat on my gut was tiring. I still have a long way to go to get to my goal weight, but I will get there as I won't quit. - 4/29/2011   8:42:29 PM
  • 24
    This was great timing for me since I have been feeling lately that I am too old to do anything about my fitness. It is great to read something like this. Today I tried a Zumba class given by the Health Plan at the hospital (all Medicare, either seniors or disabled). Most all of the people there were doing better in the class than I was, but it was a fun class and I hope I can do some more of it. - 4/29/2011   7:08:21 PM
  • 23
    I am 63 and have lost 121 lbs in the last 14 months with diet and exercise!! I think I am in better shape now than I have been for the last several years!! The study does not surprise me!! - 4/29/2011   3:56:29 PM
  • 22
    I was 60 in August. I've always enjoyed dance aerobics and exercise. I still have a lot of weight to lose but I don't let the number of candles on my birthday cake keep me from lifting weights and going to Zumba. Someone recently told me they thought I was in my 40s..WooHoo and I told them about Sparks! - 4/29/2011   3:31:13 PM
  • 21
    Love the blog, thanks. I must admit, in a way, I'm happy getting older, but not so happy with the way my body looks. I find it difficult to tone it. I do my best, but will never look 30 again. lol. - 4/29/2011   3:23:05 PM
  • 20
    I am 67 years young and i feel better since I joined Spark, exercising and eating even better than I was. I always ate RIGHT I just did not use Portion control. That was what it took for me. Exercise and Portion control at any age WORKS!!! - 4/29/2011   11:38:53 AM
  • BULGEBATTLER
    19
    I am 66 and 313 pounds but am learning that that is not as important a detail as I thought re not exercising for fear of doing harm. However as your blog and other articles suggest it is still as important as ever.
    Interesting that I often refer to my body and mind as a third party. While reading your blog it occurred to me that that makes it seem as though it is someone else and not me. My body and mind are me so whatever I do I am doing to me. So it's not that I should treat my body well (third party) but I should treat me well. - 4/29/2011   11:11:00 AM
  • BETHHRSN
    18
    well, I'm glad to hear it. but personnaly it's hard. everytime I push myself I end up injured and starting over and I've done this throughout my 40's. I'm 51 know. I THINK I'm making small steps but maybe small steps now are smaller than at 31??? I don't know. - 4/29/2011   9:21:52 AM
  • 17
    Encouraging...but, uh, 60s is not 'old' anymore, really...not in our culture. - 4/29/2011   9:08:32 AM
  • 16
    That was an encouraging article, especially since I'm getting older. - 4/29/2011   8:38:10 AM
  • 15
    I'm not surprised because I'm over 60 and my fitness level improved dramatically as well as quickly when I just got started and kept going. I'm still not a distance runner by any means, but I now do routinely what I used to avoid for fear of being incapacitated for days afterward--example, yesterday I turned the soil in my garden to a depth of 12 inches, for half an hour. And just last week a stranger at Curves told me that usually when she sees people working as hard as I do, it's the young girls. I think it's as much mind-set as anything else. Once you get over the notion that you're 'too old', just go for it! - 4/29/2011   8:16:51 AM
  • 14
    What an inspiration! Thanks for sharing. - 4/29/2011   1:30:59 AM
  • PEGGIE57
    13
    I'll have to say I'm a little surprised by the results of the study. But, I guess it depends on where you're starting from. I didn't have fibro in my 20's. - 4/28/2011   11:49:58 PM
  • 12
    I'm 50 and I'm inspired! - 4/28/2011   11:43:36 PM
  • 11
    I'm over 60, and so glad to read this because I wasn't taking my exercise seriously and then in March I had a heart attack. Now I take it very seriously! - 4/28/2011   10:39:46 PM
  • PIXIESTIX6669
    10
    Wow...great blog...I'm glad to see the word is being spread about older women getting fit, especially in weight training...one of my major inspirations for getting fit (finally) was a remarkable woman, Marjorie Newlin...Marjorie began weight training at 73, and competed professionally up until her passing at the age of 86!! with a bunch of awards and trophies to her name...Her photo is on my fridge, and I thank her every day for inspiring me... - 4/28/2011   9:49:54 PM
  • 9
    This article is confirmation for me and very encouraging. I am 55 years old and am fitter now than I have been in years since I have been consistently doing cardio, strengthening, and stretching. I am no longer on any medications and my doctor informed me that I am officially fat but fit after my recent cardiac stress test (heart rate 44 bpm from running). I am trying so hard to work on that fat part too, but it feels great to know that I am on the right track with the fitness. - 4/28/2011   9:47:27 PM
  • 8
    This would have suprised me 6 months ago, but not now, I've witnessed it first hand. There are several older women in my Zumba in the Curcuit class at Curves, I can't believe how their coordination and stama has imporved since our club brought in Zumba in January. Mine has to (in my 20s) and my muscle memory is incredible. - 4/28/2011   9:46:01 PM
  • 7
    This is a great encouragement to me, a woman of 58 years. My degree of fitness and amount of exercise have varied over the years, and it's nice to know that I can hope to continue my workouts with good results. - 4/28/2011   8:58:28 PM
  • 6
    I am 44 and have an intense workout routine. I am heavier than my younger counter parts but I give them all both male and female a run for their money especially in the strength department. - 4/28/2011   7:04:56 PM
  • KATHIE_B
    5
    I am 62 years old. I am stronger and have more endurance that I did at 26! I've always been active but I got serious about it when I turned 50. I do a variety of exercise program and there are plenty of women 50-80 who are in remarkable shape. The keys are attitude and consistency. - 4/28/2011   4:38:34 PM
  • TILALASMOM
    4
    I may not be 60, but I am 40, and I often say to others that I feel stronger and more fit than I did in my 20's. That's surprising to me because I was very active in my 20's, and got Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue in my early 30's and had to rebuild my strength and endurance. I'm back and better than before!!! - 4/28/2011   4:25:31 PM
  • 3
    As a woman in her sixties, I have found this to be
    entirely true. I am now in the best shape in my life.
    And I have found it was surprising easy to achieve
    this state of fitness. The key has been consistent
    commitment over time. Once again this shows,
    that the main limits in our lives are the ones we
    set for ourselves. - 4/28/2011   3:08:54 PM
  • 2
    As an older woman (52), I am definitely NOT surprised by this study. I didn't start exercising until I was 49. I had been really sedentary for about 10 years at that point, and just the thought of intense cardio got me winded! But since that day in May 2008 when I first ran for about 30 seconds, I've since run a full marathon, maybe 4 or 5 half marathons, several 10Ks and several 5Ks. I never thought I would be this fit in my 50s! - 4/28/2011   2:34:57 PM
  • 1
    I love the blog thank you for sharing, yes I do believe you can keep in good health when your older I have a very good friend of mine that workouts out with me and she is in her 70's & put me to shame at times. - 4/28/2011   2:34:04 PM

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