In today's September 15, 2009 newsletter . . .

  • A Note to Senior Beginners

  • A Training Secret . . . (so don't tell anyone).

A Note to Senior Beginners

Mature adults often wonder how much exercise they should do.

When asked, I often fall back on Bill Phillips' remark that practically any exercise is better than none at all. And while that is true enough it is not adequate information for serious beginners wanting to improve their fitness.

To simplify, let’s start by looking at each decade after reaching age 50. A beginner at 60 or 70, for example, should ease into an exercise program more slowly than the 50-year-old. There are exceptions, of course, but it is generally true. So be realistic. Use your maturity, common sense, and a conversation with your doctor for guidance.

Ideally, at any age, there should be three basic elements to an exercise program. There should be: 1) resistance exercise, such as weight training; 2) cardiovascular movements, such as cycling, walking, swimming, etc; and 3) flexibility postures.

Does this sound like a lot of exercise to squeeze into a busy day?

It does not have to be. The sessions can be spread out, or all three elements can be combined in a single circuit training routine, done three to four times per week. That’s not so time-consuming, now is it? And here's the kicker: soon you will be having fun doing it.

Overcoming inertia

So what if you are overweight or in bad shape or both. Forget the past and seize the day. If you don’t know how to start exercising regularly, simply begin walking. Just open the door and go. Gradually, increase the time and distances of your walks. Add bodyweight movements later, push-ups, sit-ups, deep knee bends, etc. Just get up and move. Amazingly, things will fall into place.

How far you progress beyond that is up to you. If you do no more than the above, and do it regularly, for the long term, you will have made measurable improvements in your lifestyle and, more than likely, your longevity. If you want a step-by-step starter program, see my outline for senior beginners.

Now in my 70s, I do far more than the minimum. But I am not that exceptional. In the microcosm gym where I exercise there are others about my age regularly pumping iron with gusto. We do it because we enjoy it and like how we look and feel.

The thing is to start doing something, no matter what your age. And don’t stop. The old saying, "Use it or lose it" is true. Today, they call it “sarcopenia.” It is an unpleasant word (from the Greek), meaning poverty of flesh. Bluntly, it is the wasting away of muscle. And it is what eventually robs you of your independence.

Get up off the couch and go for that walk.

I'd like to hear from you.

You've probably heard about the tremendous benefits of weight training and how you can retain -- or even reclaim -- the attributes of youth . . . Discover the way with . . .

Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

A Training Secret . . . (so don't tell anyone).

Have you thought about alligators today? Probably not. Alligator push-ups, that is. But check them out. Get good at them and I promise miraculous things. Well, at least some very good things, such as a slim, lithe, hard body. You're gonna love them gators . . .

I thought I had been cheated several years ago when I found out I shouldn’t do bench presses anymore. I shouldn’t do them because they hurt my shoulders. Switching from barbells to dumbbells helped some, but not enough.

I grumbled but accepted my fate. If an exercise hurts, don’t do it. Out of necessity plain, old push-ups became the surrogate. A funny thing happened though. It won’t convince power-lifters, I realize, but, overall, I give push-ups higher marks.

The rest of the story.

Muscle up!

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to our subscribers. Our purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

Always consult with your physician before making dietary changes or starting an exercise program.

Your comments or questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter