Fitness for the New Year
With every year, there is talk about fitness for the new year. But memories of past failures, expired gym memberships and extra pounds that seem to be permanently stuck to your hips, stomach and thighs seem to weigh you down. Most who start strong will only last several months. We aim to encourage you to not give up! There is hope and we will approach realistic goals for fitness for you from your 40’s and later.
We will also approach different mindsets as I am an artist and Greg, my husband, is a former professional athlete. Our inner drive and standard of fitness is different, but our end goal is the same: to stay flexible, maintain a healthy quality of life, and keep exploring the lifestyle we desire.
Mindsets for Fitness
For a professional athlete, fitness includes pushing your body to hit the edge of exhaustion. This goal somewhat changes as you get older. In fact, it has to change to avoid getting hurt. You can still push forward with goals, but those goals include regaining balance, flexibility of the hips, calf strength and being able to take a two-mile walk without a nap!
My fitness goals when growing up were centered around passing the Presidential Fitness Test every year in school. This was a national physical fitness testing program from the late 1950’s until 2013. It was never my favorite subject and I was always relieved when I’d finally pass, especially the pole vault and gymnastics section. In college and when performing, my fitness centered around staying in good enough shape to wear the long show dresses I’d wear on stages.
At this stage of life, my goals for fitness for the new year includes breath support and staying in good enough shape to take active vacations including hiking and biking. I also want to stay in shape for live engagements and continue fitting in clothes I love to wear.
Exercise as a Part-Time Job
For those in their twenties and even thirties, the focus is usually not on stretching and flexibility of the hips. But through your forties, fifties and beyond, exercise becomes a part-time job. Exercise should be scheduled regularly and you can vary it around according to interest, personal and short-term goals.
I like to think of exercise as part of my lifestyle. My routine includes getting up early and getting it done. After a cardio-heavy stationary bike ride plus other exercises, I walk our dog Amelia while listening to a podcast or audio book. For Greg, his body is stiffer in the early morning, so he works out mid-morning or in the afternoon. Both of us have home offices so this works for us.
The important principle is to schedule it. You need to do something every day to push your heart rate, your breath and your flexibility. Your heart works every day and so should you. For men, your testosterone level goes down with age and exercising legs and glutes helps to steady it. Greg had a coach who told him the glute muscles were the laziest in the body. You have to make the gluteus maximus work or that area will either be flabby or for many men, flatten out.
Developing an Exercise Routine
In the same way you don’t choose not to breathe (unless purposefully holding your breath for a short time with the hiccups!) you shouldn’t choose not to exercise. An exercise routine doesn’t need to be long, but it does need to be consistent. Greg has helped me in this area as I’d continue running, or jogging, as he calls it, and never add too much else to my routine.
You should do something every day, even if it includes just taking a walk and nothing else, which I do early on Sunday mornings. There are many types of exercises including those that take no machines, including resistance bands, weights, and squats. In fact, resistance bands are great to bring along when traveling. They are lightweight and you can stretch and work most muscle groups with them.
Multiple rounds of the same exercise, especially weights, works well for toning with at least three repetitions. Cross training has become popular and you can set up your own routine with three to four different exercises. This keeps your heart rate up as you move from one exercise right to the next. This is why even fifteen to twenty-minute exercise routines are very effective and may be all you need with the right program. It’s worth hiring a trainer to set up a program like this.
Our Favorite Recommendations
There are so many programs, apps and videos available for workouts and subscriptions. Find what will work for you and your lifestyle. We built into our own home gym when the gyms were shut down for over a year and it continues to come in handy.
The cycle class I attended at 5:30 A.M. is now offered after 9 A.M. which doesn’t work well with my schedule, so having a stationary bike continues to be a wonderful addition to my workouts. I’ve not gone back to the gym as I’ve developed a new routine. For many, a gym also provides social interaction, so if that is your preference, you may only want to add a few items such as bands or free weights. Note: We are not affiliates for the larger machines.
NordicTrack Stationary Bike is my favorite. You should compare different models and types of stationary bikes, including yearly subscription costs, time it takes for maintenance and customer reviews. The Peloton is advertised heavily and is very similar in price and model to the NordicTrack, but there were some differences I preferred when comparing the two. Do your own homework and make sure what you choose will be here for the long-haul. Most also make treadmills and rowing machines if that is your preference. Take the cost of the machine and divide it by the yearly cost it would take for a gym membership. That may help you decide.
MarcyPro Smith’s Cage System This system won’t be for everyone as far as expense or space, but we have enjoyed the flexibility it has created. This particular model included is very sturdy and provides quite a few options for a full workout, though you can do most anything with free weights, bands and a good floor mat! Greg, as a former professional athlete, went after this! But I use it often.
Free Weights I suggest for most women two, five and ten pounds. You can find certain free weights in most sporting goods stores and even retail stores that will save you shipping and other costs. Some weights also have rubberized handles that are more comfortable. If you do a lot of computer work, keep a small set of free weights handy to stretch and release tension in the arms and shoulders.
Step Platform with risers I love these as they have helped me increase my breath support, especially for walking up hills. The basic set here comes with two risers but you can add additional risers. I use them with free weights, stepping up with ten repetitions on my right foot first, then left.
Resistance Bands and Resistance bands with handles These are extremely portable and very cost-friendly. Before we added any larger equipment, we had some bands. I have traveled with them for years and you can use them most anywhere effectively.
Yoga mats and other types of equipment, such as kettlebells, weighted balls and more, are readily available. Find what works best for you and what you will not only start using but continue using. I wish you a wonderful year full of good fitness and health!
Through your forties, fifties and beyond, exercise becomes a part-time job.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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