January 15, 2022
In this newsletter . . .
Wife, Patty, has one of those fitness tracker watches. Don’t ask me the brand name. But it measures blood pressure, heart rate, number of steps taken in a day, and a whole bunch of other things, even sleep patterns. She also has a Peloton bike. Patty is high-tech. Me? I still straddle the 20th and 21st centuries.
Recently, I read that the number of push-ups you can do is a better indicator of heart fitness than treadmill stress tests. And by now most of us are familiar with the recommended 10,000 steps per day as a fitness goal.
But how indicative, really, of heart health and fitness are these measurements? Some Harvard scientists think push-ups testing is very indicative. See 40 push-ups test.
recent measurement (supposedly scientific) claims some longevity predictability can be based on your ability to rise from the floor to standing, without assistance, while sitting with your legs crossed. Certainly strong legs and the flexibility required are a good thing. But is it a reliable predictor of life span? (Note: women, generally, may be at an anatomical disadvantage doing this, though it is not mentioned in what I read.)
Let’s go back to the fitness tracker watches. It has become a rather widespread belief that one’s goal should be to take 10,000 steps per day. But where did the 10,000 number come from? Is there good science to back it up? Maybe. Maybe not. Recently, the 10,000 number has been questioned and then revised downward to 7,500 steps. You can look it up here.
I hope “longevity measurement” skepticism on my part doesn’t lead anyone to think I’m discounting the value of push-ups or taking a lot of steps-per-day. I love push-ups (though at my age I do resistance band chest presses instead). Movement of all kinds is good. I’m just a little suspicious of some of the numbers passed around as predictors of longevity.
Still, if striving for exact numbers helps people achieve fitness goals, I’m all for it. Patty loves tech devices and they fit her personality. When I was younger, I was a meticulous keeper of training journals, with precise records of sets, reps, pounds lifted and distances traveled. Not so much anymore. Nowadays, I tend to trust how the number of repetitions feels, or how the distance
traveled feels, when deciding how much to do.
In my beginners’ program for seniors, I recommend starting out with a five-minute walk, and adding five minutes on each subsequent outing until regular 30-minute walks are achieved. How many steps should be taken during the walks? That depends on each person’s pace and/or distance traveled. But for those who want to know their numbers, a steps tracker might be just the ticket.
One size does not fit all is the way to look at fitness tools. Whatever method works for you personally is your way to success. But do have a plan and stick to it.
Stay healthy. Stay fit.
Senior Exercise Central
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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.
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