Older woman and younger woman stretching on fitness balls at gym.

Working Around and Through Life’s Inconveniences 

You could call it a work-around, an end run, or even a creative solution–the idea is to keep moving forward, even given the obstacles that aging is going to throw in front of us. Here are a few guideposts.

Training Tempo and Form

Because the aging process has diminished our capacities of elasticity in the joint components, aerobic capacity of the lungs, and ability to recuperate, (exercise puts demands on the body from which we must recuperate), our tempo of movement (generally slower) and quality of movement (proper form) become much more important than before! Youth tolerates sloppy form and lack of common sense much more than does seniorhood. Whatever you choose as your method of exercise, take the time to learn and practice correctly. Be patient with the pace of change.

Expectations

You might wonder about this one, but if you don’t temper your expectations, disappointment could choke your intentions. Yes, you will get stronger and healthier. No, you won’t be what you were twenty years ago. Of course it sounds obvious, but seeing yourself in the mirror as a smaller, weaker mortal—even given your best efforts—can be discouraging. Aging is the ultimate mind game played out over many years. You must mentally accept this challenge of aging and determine to use the tools available to be healthy. It is this mind-set that moves you forward through the obstacles. There is no substitute for exercise.

Pain

You’ve felt the pain before and you wonder about your training. Sometimes my bursitis is a mild nagging reminder of the number of my years, and sometimes it stabs me like a madman.

As various pains creep into daily routines, the immediate task is to determine the cause and understand the ramifications for movement and training. The predominant source amongst us is some form of osteoarthritis. The ironic but important fact is that while we’re tempted to move less and restrict our range of motion, the exact opposite is necessary! Even the most accomplished athlete will lose strength and muscle mass if all training ceases. So, on top of that reality we are faced with the subtle (sometimes) ravages of the aging process. Am I being too blunt? Sorry, but aging has offered me no apologies, so toughen your resolve, Ladies and Gentlemen, and let’s get on with it…

After you’ve determined that the source of the pain will not be exacerbated by exercise, your accommodation to pain may include the following:

  1. More recuperation time than before.
  2. Use of icing after training
  3. Anti-inflammatory meds (be careful here). My local pharmacist recommended concentrated tart cherry juice as a natural anti-inflammatory, and it has helped my inflammation. I put some in my morning and evening protein drinks.
  4. Variations of the exercises that don’t involve affected area of pain.
  5. Supportive wraps

In the case of my bursitis, the level of present discomfort determines the exercises I do, at times, and the level of intensity. When they are inflamed, I definitely must make accommodations!

Many of you Senior fitness enthusiasts have, for years, been training through many more obstacles than I’ve outlined here. Like anything else in life, it’s not always easy.

Be creative. Be relentless in using whatever it is that you have now to be a stronger you in the future.

If you’ve discovered some creative accommodation techniques in the course of your workouts, please share them with our fitness community!

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About The Author

Steven Siemons ACSM CPT's picture

As a lifelong fitness enthusiast and armchair philosopher (BA in Social Science, UC Irvine), Steven communicates his passion for health and wellness with an offbeat slant. It's a lifestyle, he will insist; and fitness is really a journey to find what fits--for you. His personal fitness journey has primarily centered on resistance training for more than fifty years. An intense three-year exposure to Shotokan Karate under Sensei Ray Dalke and Sensei Edmond Otis in Southern California during his thirties (he is now 65, since you're wondering) had a significant impact on his appreciation for the martial arts as fitness disciplines. It is his sincere hope that you will find insight, inspiration, and knowledge from the ideas he sends your way. Find more of his work at The Senior Health and Fitness Blog.
 

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