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Functional Fitness Over 50: Living Better, Longer

Deniro_Exercising

Fitness over 50 is not just the realm of aging Hollywood stars. You’ve got this! (from Grudge Match, starring Robert De Niro)

If you’re turning 50, or are a bit older, the second half of your life’s journey is just beginning. And it’s time you start training for it.

In fact, it’s as important to physically train for the second half of your life as it is to plan and prepare yourself financially.

Think of it this way: What good will your life be if you’ve prepared for your golden years financially, but aren’t fit enough to enjoy playing with your grandchildren, taking trips with your spouse or just tinkering around the house or the garden?

Don’t you want to live your life, fully alive, able to go where you want to go, and do what you want to do, unfettered by an out of shape or unconditioned body’s limitations?

WhatDoYouPlan_GraphicIf you’re like most people, the answer to this question is “yes,” and the good news is there’s something you can do about it, starting now.

This is the time in your life when giving active attention to your health and fitness becomes more important than ever before. Fortunately, it’s a time of your life when the payoff is greatest, short and long-term.

Functional Fitness (or Functional Strength) Training is an approach to being physically fit with a special emphasis on whole body movement exercises that imitate or replicate “real life” movements.

This means focusing on whole body strength training, posture correction, balance and stability that keeps you fit for life’s everyday movements, from moving groceries from the car, to bouncing a grandchild on your lap, to moving a load of dirt around the yard, to hiking that mountain!

Make Your 50-Something Decade An Awesome One!

Many people hit their 50’s generally able-bodied and healthy, but overweight or skinny fat , and generally feeling soft and weak.

If this describes you, you have a lot to gain from even just beginning functional strength training, from how it will make you feel to how you statistically improve your odds of living better, longer.

And right now, in your 50s, it is easier for you to maximize those gains than it will ever be again in your life.

This is worth repeating: the decade of your 50s is a powerful and productive period.

This is the BEST TIME to maximize physical fitness gains that you will ever have in your life.

Here’s why:

• You still have enough muscle mass* to work with
• You still have  balance and coordination*- which is like neural/brain agility
• You still have plasticity*, i.e. the ability to change your posture, strength and flexibility
• You still have the ability to work out very effectively*

Now, *these attributes of fitness will be still be true at 65, but less so.   And a good bit less so at 75.

*Each of these are easier to maintain than they are to recover, and each are scheduled for a sharp decline, somewhere between ~55 and 80.  Exercise delays and decreases that decline like nothing else.

Ask Not “How Long Do I Want to Live?”,

Ask: “How Alive Do I Want to Be?”

Here’s what’s at stake …

Who wants to live to 70, 80, 90 or beyond if their quality of life is poor, bound to a walker or a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank, completely reliant upon others to help and stripped of independence.

Who would choose this, especially when there is a choice you can make now that stacks the odds in your favor of a healthier lifestyle into your 70s and 80s?

Now, there is no guarantee. Life is complex and fate is fickle. But you can dramatically sway the odds in your favor of living better, longer, every day of your life by starting functional fitness training.

Simply put, through functional fitness training, you improve your Feel Good to Feel Bad Ratio. You improve, in the face of life challenges thrown your way, the number of days you feel good, versus the number of days you feel bad.

You have control of this.

And, if you will really get after it, say 3-5 hours per week, for a year or more, you can become stronger, and able to do more things in your 50s and beyond than you were able to do in your 30s and 40s.

And while we’ve talked about how this training prepares you for everyday living, there’s some truly athletic achievements that can be gained, for whom this matters.

There’s no reason that you cannot :

• learn to put a 100 pound barbell over your head safely 10 times at age 54
• spend five hours skiing double black diamond runs at 57
• hike 7 miles into a wilderness area, bag a large game animal, and pack it out, at age 64

Doing things like that, at that age, with a degree of skill and enjoyment, sends a very strong message to yourself, to Life, and to those around you, that …               “I am still in this game!”

What You Need to Do, Now

Like many, you have may have used the excuse of being too busy to workout for so long that you doubt if it’s even possible, or worth the try.

Our answer is that it is not only possible, but relatively easy, to get started in functional fitness training. You are not too late. In fact, your are just in time to start focusing on the fundamentals.

The “big three” areas of focus for functional fitness training are:

• Whole Body Strength
• Mobility / Flexibility
• Balance

All three of these are easier to maintain than they are to recover, and the longer you wait, the harder it gets to do either.

The good news is that through functional fitness/strength training you can very effectively address all three areas (while also getting your cardiovascular exercise in) in as little as 2.5 hours per week.

Yes, you read that right.

The current science about health and fitness, including this study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicates that several hours per week of combined vigorous or intense aerobic activity combined with muscle strength training is a sufficient base for maintaining and improving your physical fitness.