When it comes to fitness role models, Jane Fonda is at the top of my list. Her high energy is that of someone decades younger. Jane, at 74, attributes her well-being to regular exercise. She touts that working out is the number one way to avoid the negative effects of aging.
As a pioneer in hard-core aerobic workouts, Jane originally held to a philosophy of “no-pain, no-gain”. I remember going to her studio in Los Angeles to experience one of her workouts. My arms ached and my legs felt like jelly after the hour-long session. At the time, I was in my thirties with a body that could withstand the grueling challenge. Aerobics, back in the 1980′s, was all about the “burn”.
Now, Jane has modified her workout to emphasize functionality. If we want to live independent lives as we age we must keep ourselves flexible and strong. Getting in and out of a chair, reaching for something on a top shelf or bending down to pick up a dropped item requires bending, squatting and reaching. Of course, we all want to continue to eat, dress and bathe ourselves without assistance, as well.
With aging comes a natural decline in muscle mass, bone density, joint mobility, cardiac output and balance. But, the good news is that we can slow down or prevent these processes through regular exercise. The idea of funtional training is to mimic everyday activities by doing exercises that involve walking, bending, stretching and moving around to keep joints flexible. Resistance training is necessary to avoid a decrease in bone mass.
When are you considered an “older adult”? It’s hard to define an exact year because we all age differently. Someone who is chronologically 70 years old may have the biological age of 50 if they have kept fit through a wholesome diet and exercise. The American Council on Exercises gives specific guidelines for adults 65 and older that includes:
Mode: Participate in endurance exercise such as walking or swimming along with a weight training program of low resistance and high repetitions.
Intensity: Keep the intensity at the lower end of the heart-rate range.
Frequency: 4-5 days per week
Duration: 30-60 minutes with a warm-up and cool down period of 10-15 minutes.
Jane Fonda is a great example of how vibrant we can be at any age if we exercise and eat right. The older we become the more important it is to continue moving. Food choices should be dense in nutrients to give ourselves the proper fuel to energize, repair and revitalize on a daily basis.
Yours in Health,