While on vacation, you may not be able to get to a gym for your regular workout, but if you walk for several hours during the day
sightseeing or at a theme park with your kids, the calorie burn most often exceeds what you would have burned in a one-hour gym workout!
FINALLY, our winter is coming to a close, the second coldest February in recorded history! But our spring is inevitable and with it, another year to enjoy outside training and workouts.
Perfect timing to review a recently released book by a renowned coach that states that loss of health and fitness is not inevitable as we grow older. Joe Friel, the author, is 72 years old and continues to coach and compete in running and triathlon races. He started researching what he needed to do to stay competitive for his own athletic performance but identified three keys to staying both fit and healthy that apply to everyone over 50. Read on to discover the three keys to staying fit, fast and youthful.
Key #1: Avoid or reverse decreasing aerobic capacity
According to Friel’s research, even competitive senior athletes start to focus more on long and easy duration cardio workouts as they age and end up eliminating the higher-end type work that challenges our VO2 max. VO2 max, a training term for the highest amount of oxygen that a body can process at a given time, is the gold standard for athletic ability. The more oxygen you can process and utilize, the higher the performance level.
Most 50+ fitness people and athletes start to avoid interval-type training that involves taking the workout into these higher and more challenging levels. There are good reasons for this, including that these type workouts are hard and uncomfortable and those over 50 (I am in this category so I know) are TIRED. Secondly, there is the risk of injury that increases when doing higher-end interval workouts.
Friel’s solution is not to eliminate but to do less volume of this type of training and add more recovery time post-high-end work. So, perform one higher end interval workout involving, for example, 4-6 sets of full-out hill repeats followed by 2 easy days but only do this intensity for 20% maximum of your training time per week to 9 days.
Key #2: Avoid or reverse decrease of lean muscle
The second key is to avoid or reverse the loss of lean muscle weight. Without counter action, everyone loses on average 0.5-1 pound of muscle every year after 35. To avoid this, it is necessary to regularly perform exercises that use weight added to your own body weight. This enables your body to rebuild and add more muscle tissue.
The loss of lean muscle mass is responsible for a decrease in function and speed if you are an athlete and functional capacity if you are not. It also decreases the metabolic rate, which can lead to increased body fat over time. For menopausal women, loss of muscle tissue from a decrease of strength exercise is a significant factor in the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
The good news is that, no matter your age, you can reverse muscle loss—and add more—by weekly strength training using heavy enough weight that you cannot do more than 5-8 repetitions without rest. Research has shown that even people who are age 100 plus have had muscle added when performing strength workouts.
Key #3: Avoid or reverse body fat
We tend to reduce our daily amount of movement as we get older. Even exercise every day in a gym or outside doesn’t make up for the reduction of activity from the other 23 hours. As a culture we are burning about 500 calories less per day then the average person in the pre-1900s. This reduced daily calorie burn of activity is magnified in aging.
We also are eating more calorie-dense foods, averaging an additional 300 calories per day compared to our grandparents’ consumption. Often, this is not due to eating more volume, but from the higher calorie density of the foods now available in the food industry. Chips, chocolate candy bars, protein and energy bars, cereals and granola, and yogurt and ice creams all have an average of 150 calories per ounce, which add up very fast, even at small quantities.
To avoid this added body fat, choose fresh whole foods, with a balance of lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains —but minimal products made from milled whole grains, such as whole wheat flour breads—as well as controlled amounts of healthy fats. Also, consistently eating meals regularly spaced through the day means less calories than under-eating through the day but consuming more at night.
Body fat reduction, maintenance of a healthy amount of lean muscle tissue and continued inclusion of high intensity cardio interval workouts once every week to 9 days are keys to being fit, lean, fast and youthful well beyond 50 years old. Take advantage of spring to incorporate these keys into your outdoor workouts and daily practices!
Judy Torel, MS is a USAT Certified Coach, Level I. ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist. Healthexcel Certified Metabolic Typing Consultant, Level I. MS, Counseling Psychology, State University of New York at Albany. Yoga Instructor – 200+ hour training level/Anusara style. 6 time Ironman Triathlete. 24 Hour Ultra Run Winner, 1st Place Masters Woman. For more information visit www.judytorel.com or call 469.0815.