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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #130, What will you do in retirement?
January 15, 2014
January 15, 2014
In this newsletter . . .
Retirement BlissOccasionaly, I leave the newsletter's physical fitness topic for a moment to talk about other senior related subjects. This is one of those moments, and the subject is retirement. Please read on.
Somehow the nosy people at AARP or AMAC know when you turn 50 and send you an invitation to join up. In their eyes, you’ve just crossed that line — you are a senior, like it or not.
It has been over 20 years since I found my invitation in the mailbox. At first, it was a punch in the stomach. Then I would joke about it with friends. But the clock stops for no one.
People who don’t think much about retirement suddenly realize the day isn’t all that far off. Depressing? For some, yes. And that's too bad. Because here is the good part: When you do finally retire, you really can, if you choose to, rediscover your passion in life.
Here is how I found retirement bliss . . .
I knew that art and fitness were my callings by the time I was a teenager, and probably even earlier than that. What I could do better than most of my peers was draw. And as a skinny kid, I was always looking for ways to build up my body. Other matters, some important and some not, diverted my attention along the way; but, finally, there I was — retired. I could actually do as I pleased.
The years have passed and I have never really felt a void. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. I am fortunate to be absorbed in the creative process of making art and promoting the fitness lifestyle. Without these strong interests, however, or something equally engaging, I cannot imagine what life would be like. We've all seen people who retire and then vegetate in front of a television set.
Probably your interests are very different than mine. But somewhere in each of us the interests are there, only waiting to be rediscovered and released. One good way to uncover them is by looking backward to your childhood and adolescence. Recall the thoughts, activities, and dreams that sent your imagination and spirit soaring. Those are your clues. Develop interests related to them and you are likely to experience a personal renaissance.
Also of interest to seniors, see: Money Fitness.
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Insanity WorkoutsThe question about the appropriateness of Insanity Workouts for aging trainees is worth examining. Popular programs like Insanity Workouts, P90X, or CrossFit are high intensity training. Each may have a different approach but what is required in common is intense effort. And since we only get out of a program what we put into it, even seniors might think such high intensity training is appropriate for them.
These popular methods have thousands of followers. But except for doing one month’s worth of CrossFit workouts (a few years ago), I have no personal experience with any of them. So it would be unfair of me to critique the three methods, though I do question some things I have seen people doing in their infomercials and on their websites. In general, I urge caution to people at mid-life and older when it comes to signing on to regular high intensity training.
In fairness, I should point out that most of the high profile, high-intensity systems do offer programs they say are tailored for older adults. However, those programs typically are not what you see in the online advertising or on TV. Rather, you view much younger people demonstrating and advocating the workouts. Are the programs they’ve designed for seniors a good bet for those of us over 50? Since I haven’t done them, I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is this: As we age, certain workout practices get riskier and should be adjusted or, in some instances, avoided altogether. Any out-of-shape beginner over 50 is courting trouble and maybe disaster by attempting high-intensity training before building a reasonable fitness base. The old rule of starting out easy and progressing gradually to more challenging training is the sensible approach to a strength and fitness lifestyle.
Injury to tendons and ligaments is a likely result of jumping right into either heavy lifting or high intensity training. All-out one-rep-maximum lifts, for example, or gut busting cardio workouts flirt with serious trouble. Tendons and ligaments may be challenged beyond their limits. And blood pressure skyrockets during all-out maximum lifting efforts. Is that the smartest fitness approach for seniors? I don’t think so.
Cautionary notes are valid and should be respected. However, this does not mean wimping out as we grow older. Exercise for strength and fitness should be life long. But ignoring the reality of aging by trying to workout with the same intensity as athletes in their 20s and 30s is foolish. My advice to senior beginners is to push forward but push gently. And “listen to your body,” as the saying goes. Ease up if you are still tired the day following a training day. Also stop doing exercise that relentlessly pounds your joints in the same way, workout after workout.
Keep your workouts short but focused. Marathon sessions in the gym are counter-productive. Get in. Get to work. Get out. Some muscle soreness is fine. But if an exercise hurts your joints, don’t do it. It is surprising how many older trainees stubbornly go on doing something that plainly hurts them, thinking that somehow they will work their way through it. Usually it gets worse.
Never stop exercising. But at some point after passing 50, maybe it is better to leave the full, all out, gut busting, high-intensity training to the young. It’s something to think about.
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.
I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.
Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.
The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.
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