Three Secrets to Peak Physical Fitness in your 40s, 50s and Beyond!

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Three Secrets to Peak Physical Fitness in your 40s, 50s and Beyond!

Over the past several weeks, I’ve found myself having more and more conversations about the effects of aging with my +40 patients, especially those that are active. “Why can’t I lift the same weights I used to?”  “Why can’t I do that boot camp workout anymore?”  The aging process affects every part of your body, including your joints.  Over time, the cartilage that lines joints begins to dry out, leading to stiffness and wear and tear.  But how these changes affect you is completely within your control.  In this article, I want to touch on some of the strategies that you can use to help regain and even improve your strength, endurance and flexibility.

First of all, diet matters.  A diet that emphasizes whole foods, with little to no sugar or processed food is essential.  Sugar can act to increase the body’s inflammatory response.  This can cause increased pain and exacerbate the wear and tear process.  Alcohol also tends to promote inflammation so limiting intake is important.  In addition, natural supplements such as glucosamine sulfate have been shown to slow down degenerative changes in weight bearing joints, especially the knees.

Secondly, get treatment.  A thorough workup by a professional is needed to make sure there aren’t any specific diseases or injuries that may be slowing you down.  A chiropractor will asses your joints to make sure they are moving the way they should, a key element for any level of activity.  A massage therapist will ensure your muscles aren’t too tight.  And a physiotherapist can help develop exercises that target specific areas of weakness or imbalance.

And finally, diversify your workout.  This seems to be the most challenging part for active people.  Runners want to run.  Hockey players want to play hockey.  Yogis want to practice yoga.  While these types of activities are, in and of themselves, good for you, they often leave out other essential components of fitness.  For example,  we often see runners begin to complain of aches and pains because they don’t do enough to maintain their flexibility.  Adding in some yoga work may be the perfect complement to that type of aerobic training.  Similarly, the weekend hockey player who ignores core strengthening may be limiting their performance and increasing the risk of injury.  A few planks and bridges may help create a more complete fitness program.  We also find ourselves reminding yoga practitioners that some type of regular aerobic work, such as a simple 30 minute walk, is important as well.  And sometimes, patients simply need to listen to their bodies.  Reducing the intensity or duration of certain types of exercise may be warranted.  But even if you find yourself using lower weights or running a shorter distance, as long as you supplement those activities with other types of exercise, you will find yourself feeling just as strong and vibrant as ever.

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