How to Adapt Your Fitness Routine For the Later Years

We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep on saying it: regular exercise unlocks immense benefits for all age groups. For seniors, exercise is the ticket to a happier, healthier retirement. Benefits include:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved mental health
  • Weight maintenance or loss
  • Looking and feel younger

Yet with the passing years comes the need to adapt exercise routines. With each decade, the body changes, and what used to be easy-breezy is now more challenging. This doesn’t mean people can’t continue exercising as they age. It just means they need to refine their approach.

Go See the Physician
Regular readers of the AlterG blog will recognize this common refrain: when introducing exercise into one’s life, or drastically changing one’s routine, it’s important to talk to the doctor first. That goes for people of all ages.

This doesn’t have to be complicated, though: an annual physical evaluation with a primary care physician is the right time to evaluate one’s suitability for regular exercise and any additional precautions they need to take.

RELATED: 5 Workouts for People With Fall Risk

Start Simple and Progress Incrementally
Our age and physical condition are no match for the inner picture we have of ourselves (I’ll be 25 forever!). While relatable, attempting the same activities, with the same intensity, that we could earlier in life lead to injury.

Instead, set an objective to do one simple exercise, such as walking, toe touches, or stretching every day, or every other day, for two weeks. After two weeks, you’ll have developed the habit of exercise on which you can build toward a more advanced senior exercise routine.

RELATED: Train Seniors Using Unweighting

Establish Baseline Flexibility and Balance
For the first couple of weeks, make balance, core strength, and flexibility the areas of focus. This will help establish a baseline that will enable comfortable, safe, and effective exercise later on.

Modify Your Existing Routine
Don’t rule out a return to glory just yet! Many of the exercises and routines you used to do can be modified. Lifting weights, stretching, aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi—all of these can be done while sitting in a chair. Many seniors take to the pool for aerobic routines that are just as challenging, but not as hard on the body.

Work With a Physical Therapist
The question is, do seniors need a physical therapist? In some cases, physical disability, injury, fall risk, and other factors common among seniors necessitate work with a physical therapist. For seniors, working with a physical therapist can offer a number of advantages:

  • Guided exercises that limit fall risk
  • Identify and work on weaknesses or deficiencies
  • Rehabilitate and recover from injury
  • Go slow under the supervision of a professional

The supervision of a professional can be very beneficial. Physical therapists have tools and techniques at their disposal that are designed to help people get the most out of their workouts—regardless of age, condition, injury status—in sensible, safe increments.

LEARN MORE: Anti-Gravity Treadmill for Seniors

5 Creative Ways to Workout as a Family

Happy Mother’s Day! Having children changes everything, doesn’t it? As much as parents want to believe they’ll be able to live the same life after kids—oh, how we hold on tight to that belief—it all changes when that first padawan arrives.

One of the first things to go is the exercise routine. During the first couple of years of parenthood, who really has time to go for a jog or hit the gym when there are young children to take care of? Fair enough. Even though it might not be the same as it was, there are still ways to squeeze in exercise. It just takes a little bit of group mentality.

5 Creative Ways to Exercise as a Family
The trick is to thread exercise into your existing schedule—to sneak exercise into the family activities you already do with your family. And what better time to exercise as a family than Mother’s Day? (Okay, maybe start with these tips the day after Mother’s Day so mom can get her proper kicks.)

1. Go for a Walk
Walking is the new running! At least for parents, it is. Walking is great for papa bear, mama bear, the babies, even grandma and grandpa. Getting out and in the sunshine can not only provide exercise to people of all ages, but can also provide the psychological break that many parents often need. Make walks a game by singing, marching, and gamifying certain milestones (times around the block, steps, etc.).

2. Make Cleanup Time a Dance Party
It’s hard to convince kids to clean up. Heck, it’s hard to convince ourselves to cleanup—unless you make it fun. And what better calorie-burner is there than dancing? It’s fun, engaging, and it begs for your favorite soundtrack. Got vinyl around or a favorite playlist? Throw them on and set an example by dancing through the entire cleanup. Dancing is contagious, you’ll see. The kids will follow and you’ll all be burning calorie as you go.

3. Get Moving During Commercial Breaks
Let’s face it: most families spend a lot of time watching television together. Kids shows are educational, entertaining, and they help plug kids in so that parents can tune out a while (seriously, how many times have you seen Baby Shark and Frozen?). During breaks and commercials, get the kids up and moving by doing jumping jacks, running in place, or even burpees. If the kids are too young, do the exercises yourself. Eventually, they’ll come around (and maybe your spouse will, too).

4. Put the Children to Work
Admit it: when you found out you were having kids, part of you was excited to hand off chores and housework. Mowing the lawn. Raking leaves. Pulling weeds and cleaning gutters. A couple of hours spent on any of these chores is no small physical ask. You’ll be sweating and sore in no time. Get the kids involved and Sunday chores will quickly become the Sunday family workout.

5. Take the Dog for a Walk
Kids. Love. Dogs. Don’t we all? And if you have one in your family, you have an always-on, never-sleeping opportunity for exercise. When’s the last time your dog refused to go for a walk? Head out to the nearest park, prairie reserve, or beach and go for a long one. Get the kids involved or, if they’re old enough, charge them with handling dog walking all on their own. The Kennel Club recommends two fifteen-to-twenty-minute walks a day. That’s two opportunities to get up, get moving, and do something beneficial to the health of both canine and child members of the family.

Keep It Interesting, Keep Consistent
To exercise as a family, you need to get creative and you need to stay consistent. There are only so many hours in a day. But busy doesn’t have to mean sedentary. When you make exercise part of the fabric of the family, the kids will respond in kind. And an active lifestyle is one of the best examples parents can set.

6 Tips for Running in Your Fifties

Though it might feel like a steeper hill to climb, running in your fifties is definitely possible. Maintaining a regular running program doesn’t have to be a casualty of age! In fact, running can be quite a boon to your well-being as you age.

Yet, running in your fifties brings with it different considerations than, say, running in your twenties. Certain aspects of the program that you used to take for granted can now be the difference between a healthy routine and injury, chronic pain, and slow progress. Here are six tips to do it right:

1. Listen to Your Doctor
Start at the doctor’s office. The doctor will make recommendations about whether you are fit and healthy enough to run at all (and at what intensity). This information will help you design the right program for your age and fitness level.

2. Prioritize Recovery
Turning fifty doesn’t mean you can’t run anymore, but it might mean that recovery times might increase. At the age of fifty, perhaps more than ever in your past, recovery time will become terribly important. Make sure to leave enough time for sleep and take adequate rest days between runs. Work on proper diet and sleep to maximize recovery.

3. Tap into Flexibility, Stabilizers, and Balance
Running in and of itself asks a lot of our core strength, flexibility, and balance. Running in your fifties asks a bit more. Still, focusing on these areas can create a base that allows you to run longer and safer while limiting pain and injury.

4. Play the Long Game
As we age, it takes longer to make improvements and reach new heights in our running programs. It’s important to resist the temptation to overdo it, as injuries from overuse or overexertion also take longer to recover from in our fifties and beyond. The more in tune we are with our adjusted timelines, the longer we’ll be able to sustain a healthy program over time.

5. Consider Group Training
Running with other peers in your age group is a great way to calibrate your routine and stay within yourself. There are plenty of fifty-plus running groups in most cities. Take the leap and see how nice it is to run each week with people who share in and understand what it means to run in your fifties.

6. Say Goodbye to Younger You, Embrace the New You
Our final tip is all about outlook. Yes, it is true that we might lose some ability, conditioning, and capacity as we age. And it can be difficult to come to terms with what we feel like we’re capable of in our minds and what our bodies can actually do. Still, the sooner you embrace the “new you,” the quicker you’ll be able to adapt the right habits and approaches that make running in your fifties better than ever.

How to Increase Your Running Distance Safely

Establishing and maintaining a running program is always a challenge. Staying consistent, keeping things interesting, and pushing past the wall requires commitment. Adding more miles can be a whole other can of worms.

In the spirit of taking your program to the next level, here’s how to safely increase running distance while limiting your risk of injury and exhaustion.

Track Your Progress

Just as keeping a daily journal can help you keep a diet, so to can it help you improve your running program. We recommend setting a weekly mileage goal, then charting the miles you run every week. After you’ve hit your mark a few weeks in a row, review your logs to inform how many miles to add to your weekly total (and when).

Mix Up Distance and Running Routes

Whoever you talk to, boredom is the number one excuse for not running. Don’t let the tedium stunt your program! If you love running the same route every day, try reversing it every once in a while. Work in hills, mix up distances throughout the week. Assign one of your days for a “longer” run.

Load Up Before Your Rest Day

To that end, try planning your long run the day before a rest day. Knowing that you’ll have the next day to rest will give you the confidence to push it, both in terms of distance and pace.

Unlock the Power of Recovery Time

Speaking of rest days, your off days can be as important to adding distance than your “on” days. Rest days give your body time to recover and adapt. This means not only working rest days into your routine but making the most of that rest time by eating well and staying hydrated.

Finally, Listen to Your Body

Of all the ways to safely add distance to your running program, listening to your body is one of the most important. This doesn’t mean skipping run days because you don’t feel like it, no. Listening to your body means reading any indicators of overuse, exhaustion, and injury.

Because putting your body out of commission won’t do you any good when trying to add miles to your running program.

Learn how the Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ can help improve your running.

 

What’s the Difference Between Static and Dynamic Stretching?

Stretching is a lot like flossing. We know that it’s important and that we should be doing it. We know that it helps our bodies in the long run. Yet so many of us still skip this important activity altogether.

And just like skipping flossing, failing to properly stretch is a mistake. Done right, stretching helps us improve our range of motion, flexibility, and recovery time. For anyone serious about their fitness, stretching is non-negotiable, both before and after workouts. That goes for everything from weightlifting and gymnastics to basketball, volleyball, and rec league hockey.

Typically, a complete stretching program consists of both static and dynamic stretches. The question is, what’s the difference? And when is it best to do one or the other? Here’s a closer look at the difference between static and dynamic stretches, common applications, and some examples.

The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Stretching

The difference between static and dynamic stretching comes down to a simple thing: movement. A static stretch is, generally, any position you hold—often at the limit of a given joint’s range of motion—to increase flexibility. A lack of movement—hence the name static—is common to all of these stretches. No bouncing, changing position, or repetition of movement.

Applications of Static Stretching

  1. Flexibility
  2. Post-workout recovery
  3. Preventing bruising and soreness

3 Examples of Static Stretches

  • Standing hamstring foldover (touch your toes)
  • Seated groin and inner thigh stretch
  • Overhead triceps stretch

A dynamic stretch is any repetitive, more challenging motion aimed at loosening up muscles and joints. Usually, dynamic stretches are sports- or activity-based motions one repeats a number of times. If it feels challenging, it’s supposed to be. Watch professional athletes before a game or match and you’ll likely see them go through some form of dynamic stretching routine.

Applications of Dynamic Stretching

  1. Pre-workout warmup
  2. Endurance and conditioning training

3 Examples of Dynamic Stretches

  • High knees
  • Walking lunges
  • Lateral crossovers

Understanding the difference between static and dynamic stretching is the first step toward incorporating these important movements into your workouts.

If stretching remains on your list of need to do that more (ahem, right next to flossing), try this: select three to five dynamic stretches and perform them before your next workout. After your routine, perform three to five static stretches. Set a goal to apply this stretching routine to each workout for two weeks.

You’ll be amazed at the difference.

Workout Tips for When You’re Staying at a Hotel

If you tend to travel during the year, you know how disruptive a trip can be to a regular workout routine. Who has time to squeeze gym time into work trips and conferences? Vacations can make finding time to exercise even more challenging.

Who wants to do lunges when it’s time to party!?

Well, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. So we’ve put together our most practical and easy hotel workout tips. These will equip you with what you need to make the most out of your traveling gym—motel, hotel, or otherwise.

Tips for the Hotel Gym

Hotel gyms are not always the most exciting or well equipped. Use these tips to make the most out of whatever size gym room your hotel has to offer.

  • Come prepared – Bring along the basics, like a towel, water bottle, and mat so you can get more out of available flat space. If you find yourself in a windowless box in the basement of a Motel 6, music is your friend.
  • Get in some cardio – Sometimes, a treadmill or elliptical machine will be your only option. Most modern machines now include pre-programmed workouts, such as hill training or interval work. Mix it up and do something new and challenging so you don’t get bored.
  • Create stations with what you have – Create a circuit of workouts by moving from exercise to exercise. For example, you could do ten minutes on the treadmill, then a five-minute plank routine, before moving to weight lunges (if hand weights are available). Rinse and repeat three to five times, limiting rest time in between exercises.

 

  • Hit the pool – So what if everyone else is poolside? The pool is your friend! Try some pool calisthenics and dynamic movement routines, tread water for fifteen minutes, then do a few laps freestyle down and back. What better place to get your heart rate up than in the pool?

 

Tips for Working Out In Your Room

For those times when a workout room or pool isn’t available, here are some in-room workout tips:

 

  • Get going early – The best way to ensure you get your hotel workout done is to get it done first thing in the morning. This way, you don’t have to worry about fitting into you busy schedule later on.

 

 

  • Clear and prepare a space – It seems simple, but adequate space is a must. Move furniture around, turn the television off, put a mat down, and get some music going so you can focus on your workout.

 

  • Think burpees and bodyweight – You don’t need a lot of space to go through a challenging bodyweight routine. Get in a good warmup stretch, jumping jacks, and a quick ab routine. Then set the clock for ten to fifteen minutes and complete one hundred burpees before the time is up. There are a plenty of bodyweight workouts to choose from.

 

  • Try a yoga routine – All you need for a yoga routine is a mat and a little bit of space. Bring in some natural light if you can and try a thirty-minute yoga routine. Yoga can do wonders for your energy and balance, especially while traveling.

 

Finally, it’s important to remember that you probably won’t be able to recreate your workout routine completely. Put yourself in a maintenance mindset, where the workouts you do on your trip are to keep your baselines for when you do return home and get back into it full swing. Plan for the bare minimum in terms of time and equipment, come prepared, and these hotel workout tips should be more than you need to break a sweat no matter where you’re staying.

Why Your Body Needs Rest Days

There is a hero in us all that loves to “just push through.” Push through the pain. Push through the fatigue, soreness, and hunger. While there is nothing wrong with a strong work ethic, it can be a mistake to push on at the expense of much needed rest and recovery.  Among the many reasons why your body needs rest days, here are five that might give you pause the next time you want to skip a day off.

1. Avoid Overuse Injuries (and Overtraining Syndrome)

Working out too much can push your muscles, bones,  and ligaments, leading go overuse injuries. Think tennis elbow, tendonitis, sprains, and tears. It can also lead to overtraining syndrome, a common condition that can include dragging fatigue, sleep disruption, and mood swings (among other symptoms).

2. Restore Muscle Tissue

Have you ever gotten the feeling after a day or two off that you return that much stronger and more energized? During nearly any kind of training, inflammation and even small tears occur in muscle tissues. During rest, the healing and regeneration of these muscles is what allows us to build strength, endurance, and muscle mass.

3. Replenish, Refuel, Hydrate

Rest days are also an opportunity to replenish the things your body needs to recover. A diet rich in lean protein, fruits, and vegetables will provide some of the calories, vitamins, and nutrients lost during exercise. Of course, you should continue drinking ample water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not only will diet and water intake help you recover, it will prepare you for tomorrow’s workout, too.

4. Get Your Mind Right

Time away from the physical challenge and psychological strain that accompanies exercise, workout regimens, and sporting activities can do wonders for the mind. A bit of mental rest can recenter your memory, focus, and motivation that might suffer if you burn yourself out. Take a full day off and feed the mind with positive stimulation.

Taking a day off when your body needs rest isn’t a sign of weakness, or quitting—it’s smart. The world’s top athletes and trainers swear by it (alongside proper nutrition and hydration). Just getting a bit more sleep every night can make a world of difference in you mood, energy level, and motivation.

How long? Allow one to two days between working out the same group of muscles. These rules vary depending on type of exercise and body type, so it’s always a good idea to check with your physician or physical therapist to confirm.

Either way, rest is essential to better performance. Put it all together and you’ll come back stronger than ever.

5 Pointers for Better Training in Cold Weather

Should you be one of the brave and determined souls that engage in cold weather training, we salute you. No hibernation for the weary, especially when there are resolutions on the mind.

Cold weather training presents its own set of challenges. The body, for one, responds differently to the cold—during preparation, training itself, and recovery time.

Here are five tips for better, safer training in cold weather. Follow these and you’ll be well positioned to train stronger throughout the cold season.

1. Get Enough to Eat and Drink

Just because the temperatures are low doesn’t mean your body isn’t working just as hard (if not harder) than it might during summer. Calorically speaking, your body needs fuel not only to sustain your training routine, but to keep your body arm while doing it. And proper hydration is just as important during winter as it is any other month.

2. Insulate and Regulate

Beyond plain comfort, layering yourself properly can help manage cold weather conditions during training. Make sure to insulate your body so it stays warm, of course. But for longer routines, ventilate intermittently to make sure your body doesn’t overheat under the extra layers. Finally, shield yourself from the cutting wind best you can.

3. Stay Moving, Stay Loose

Cold temperatures can limit blood flow and encourage us to (consciously or not) stay tight and compact to keep in the warmth. While training in cold weather, it is important to maintain circulation throughout the workout. Runners, for example, can windmill the arms, or periodically shake them out. Wiggle the toes, open and close your fists. Maintaining good circulation prevents injury and keeps the body running optimally.

4. Cool Down Sensibly

A cool down is always a good idea, no matter the weather. That’s because after training, the heart is working extra hard and requires time to gradually return to a normal state. Cold weather puts even more load on the heart, so it’s important to get a gradual cool down to reduce risk of heart strain, fainting, or feelings of sickness. But don’t linger in the cold! Cooling sweat can increase your risk of catching a chill.

5. Clear It With a Physician

Vigorous exercise of any kind puts added strain on the body. Because training in cold weather requires more heart exertion, it is imperative that those new to exercise, or living with obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, consult with a physician first.

Ultimately, the mantra for cold weather training is simple: prepare well and be sensible. The five pointers above should help you train smart during the winter months and be in the best shape of your life come spring.

3 Winter Workouts You Can Do At Home

Like most dark and dreary winter days, at-home workouts tend to be boring and uninspired. We thought we’d put together a list of three fun exercise activities that will stimulate both your mind and matter, all while keeping those pesky winter blues at bay.

Here’s our list of three home workouts for winter, including some ideas on how to make the most of whichever you choose.

Jump Rope like a Boxer

In the world of boxing and mixed martial arts, jumping rope is a staple. It’s perfect as a warm up, or as a workout in and of itself. Benefits include improvements in endurance, coordination, agility, and foot speed. Think jumping rope is boring? See if you can make it through twenty minutes, nonstop, while incorporating the following moves:

  • Side swing
  • Criss cross
  • Single-foot hop
  • Alternating feet
  • Scissors
  • Scissor lunges
  • Heal to toe
  • Toe to toe
  • Double unders
  • High knees

As your rope jumping advances, you can try using a weighted rope, or speed rope, to increase the challenge.

Stream it to Your Living Room

When it comes to at-home winter workouts, video search engines like YouTube are a goldmine. Why? Two reasons: it’s free, and the variety is endless. Here are a few search terms to throw into YouTube that will give you a great start at finding what works for you:

  • Dance workout
  • Yoga routine
  • Tai chi routine
  • HIIT routines
  • Core strength routine
  • Kickboxing routine

For each of these search terms, you’ll find plenty of high quality workouts you can do at home.

Use What You Were Born With

Body weight exercises require just one thing: you. And like jumping rope, there is no end to the variety of body weight exercises you can build into your routine. To begin, try putting together a circuit routine with 3-5 of the following body weight exercises.

  • Push-ups (use proper form!)
  • Pike hold
  • Ankle touch push ups
  • Forward and side planks
  • Standard squats
  • Prisoner squats
  • Burpees

Those should get you percolating (that last one is tough!). Here is an excellent, illustrated guide of more than 40 bodyweight exercises.

Tips for Your Winter Workout

No matter which winter workout you choose, here are a few recommendations to help your home workout be more successful:

  • Clear a dedicated space for the workout
  • Limit distractions so you can focus
  • Keep it short and engaging, thirty minutes to an hour tops
  • Spice it up with some music (deep house, anyone?)
  • Invite a workout partner to join you

And finally, don’t look out the window! Because yes, it is still cold and, yes, it still the middle of winter.

If You Are Up For Leaving the House …

Of course, we can’t hibernate the entire winter! And besides, a change in scenery (and a bit of socializing) can do the body good. Did you know that you can book individual sessions on an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ in your area? Use the link below to search your zip code for a facility that offers individual sessions on one of our Anti-Gravity Treadmill products.

Find an Anti-Gravity Treadmill >>

4 Ways to Safely Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

In the spirit of optimism and support, we salute your new year’s resolutions, whatever they may be. In our experience, what separates those who achieve their new year’s resolutions and those who don’t is simple: setting and pursuing resolutions in an intelligent, safe way.

Failing to do so can not only derail a person’s gung-ho pursuit of newly minted resolutions, but lead to pain, injury, and unexpected consequences. Here are four ways to safely achieve your new year’s resolutions.

1. Make informed resolutions

One reason resolutions are so appealing is because they show us where we want to be. They do little, however, to remind us of where we are today. Before setting resolutions, take a detailed inventory of your baselines.

This should start with a visit to the doctor for a routine physical. This appointment will give you baseline numbers around your height, weight, heart rate, and other key diagnostics. Blood work and urine samples can help identify any other risk factors you might consider before starting a workout program.

Aside from  physician’s approval to exercise, you can also get a body composition assessment to get numbers around body fat percentage, BMI and other baseline indicators. If your resolutions include running, gait assessment and analysis can prove highly informative. All of this information will help you identify safe goals to set and give you concrete numbers to measure your progress against.

2. Under promise and over deliver (not the other way around)

A surefire way to fall short of fulfilling your new year’s resolutions is to set unrealistic goals. This is also a good way to find yourself out of commission due to injury. Avoid this common pitfall by setting specific goals that are both achievable and sustainable.

Instead of making a resolution to lose fifty pounds, aim for the first ten by the first of March. If your goal is to do the splits, start by touching your toes. Overly ambitious goals can lead you to push yourself unsafely, increase injury risk, and be too hard on yourself should you fail to achieve resolutions that might have been wildly unrealistic in the first place.

3. Remember that sudden change can shock the system

Though a shock to the system can sometimes be a good thing, it can also be dangerous for certain people, body types, and conditions. Rapid weight loss for obese individuals, for instance, or going from a sedentary lifestyle to marathon training can lead to injury, complications, and unforeseen consequences. Consult with a physician first and always remember the age-old adage: baby steps to the bus.

4. Believe in the basics and insist on them

Without adequate rest, a relatively balanced diet, and plenty of water, few resolutions have any chance of flowering. That’s like hopping into a car with no oil, coolant, or fuel, then expecting it to make a trip across the country! Put yourself in a better position to succeed by defining a list of five fundamentals, and then obsess over them.

Examples might be getting eight hours of sleep at least five nights a week, or drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. No food, not even snacks, after 8:00 or 9:00 pm. Always stretching before (warm-up) and after (cool-down) exercise. The more consistently you make good on these fundamentals, the better equipped you’ll be to make good on your greater resolutions. In fact, consistently doing these things on a daily basis could be a resolution in and of itself.

Because Safe Resolutions are Strong Resolutions

The new year is in full swing and we hope your resolutions are, too. We believe in you! We also believe in setting safe, realistic goals and putting yourself in the best position to be successful. You’ve got this! Follow the four fundamental steps above and you’ll be well on your way to always making your new year’s resolutions come true.