My goal is to help you live longer better, but how would you measure your progress towards that objective?
You could wait, and see if you do indeed survive longer than your less active friends. Or, you could try some simple tests now, which will give you early signs of your progress.
Poor results on these tests correlate with earlier death, and more probable hospitalisation as well. You will live longer better if you take action to improve the underlying causes of poor results.
The common causative factor for getting improved results is ... exercise! Did you guess?
How bored are you with your "leg-day, chest-day, arm day" gym routine?
If you are looking for something that will get you better results and be more satisfying, then I have good news for you.
Stop now, and you'll be better off.
Training splits, the "leg-day/chest-day/arm-day" guff are just figments of the bro-culture. If you're under 40 no harm done - you'll look good in a t-shirt following any strength-training regime.
If you are over 50, then it's time to stop and think seriously about your training objectives.
Some things are not all that they are cracked up to be--especially regarding fitness and exercise advice. Balance is the opposite, and there's a reason why ...
One "challenge test" I often ask of people in my writing about fitness after 50 and living longer better is this:
- Can you put your socks on while standing up?
That's simple enough.
It is an elementary requirement - a basic human movement you might say.
Yet most people over 50 cannot do it. That concerns me, and it should concern you too.
If you're a regular reader of mine you may have picked up on my admonitions to not use any gym machines that you sit on e.g. in my Five Secrets for Fitness After 50.
Very often I accompany my warning with the explanation that gym machines are designed to accentuate muscles and make you look great in a t-shirt, but you'll struggle to do up your shoelaces.
There's a reason that gym machines are not designed to help you be able to do up your shoelaces. And there is a much more important reason why that should concern you greatly. It might knock 5 years off your life. When I explain why I hope that you'll kick the habit of gym machines, and potentially live longer better.
If you can stand then you can exercise - what to do next when you have sprains, strains and injuries (and you are 50+)
It's a downward spiral if we stop exercising because of pain or injury. Of course, sometimes it's "doctor's orders" and then you need to obey. And if you don’t have good body awareness then you can cause compensation stress in other parts of your body.
That said, in my experience, most people give up too easily.
If you can stand without troubling pain then you can do something. If you've not been exercising then you can start, with something gentle. If you've been exercising then you have a chance to keep up and not lose all of your hard-won gains while you recover from your injury.
Think about people with chronic pain. Some have a fear of exercise and avoid movement. They often get worse. Others manage their fears and regain their confidence by starting and sticking with an exercise plan. They get better - first mentally and then physically.
From what I see around me, it seems that the older we get the more we become afraid of strength training - older people start to believe that it will do them more harm than good.
That's not the case, and you can do a lot with just bodyweight exercises to get started. Although you cannot reach the ultimate strength outcomes without heavy weights e.g. deadlifts and cleans - you can still achieve enormous benefits by just doing bodyweight exercises. And of course you can do those yourself at home.
Still, access to good equipment at a gym and a trainer, at least initially, is an advantage. Some basic knowledge also helps, and my four principles below will give you a great head start.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building body-shaping training for people our age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter