Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why I Am Exercising As I Am Getting Older

When I was young(er), a big motivation for exercising was how it made me look. Sure, I knew that exercising was good for me, but that was really not the main reason I did it.

Over the past 20 years, I have always been active (even through a time when I gained quite a bit of weight due to stress eating; exercise does not prevent weight gain if you eat too much… Duh. I know…). But sometime in my 30s my motivation to exercise gradually shifted from “looks” to “health.”

I started getting little aches and pains that hadn’t been there before, but I found that with regular exercise, including enough stretching and yoga, they pretty much went away. I also suffered from debilitating low back pain on a few occasions in recent years, but luckily I am able to manage my low back with regular barre classes.

Here is my current exercise philosophy. It’s all about keeping my body strong and functioning well. It’s also about injury prevention.


  • Move every day for at least 30 minutes – this is crucial for me to feel “right;” it is more about my brain than my body.
  • Take workouts outside whenever possible – I am back to one long(ish), hilly hike per week, and I love it.
  • Do at least two strength workouts per week – as I’m aging this is becoming more and more important. I can see and feel a real difference when I lift weights consistently.
  • Do at least two barre workouts per week – barre classes with a focus on proper alignment really help me manage my low back. When I don’t do two barre classes/workouts (I do have several DVDs that I do at home) per week, my low back starts hurting. Barre classes aren’t cheap (but Groupons and other deals make them more affordable), and it’s not always easy to get there. But debilitating low back pain is not fun, so I do what I have to.
  • Prevent (re)injuries – I injured my ankle 25 years ago, had a complicated surgery, a lengthy recovery (and exercised too soon), and reinjured it numerous times over the years. At one point (I’m not proud of this), I took pain meds to get me through workouts. Now I have learned to listen to my body as I want it to function for many years to come. That sometimes means “getting off my foot” and doing less cardio for a week or so while I let my foot recover. This seems like a “no brainer,” and I can’t believe it took me so long to realize this…
At this stage in my life, I have learned that it is possible to stay strong and healthy, but it definitely takes a bit more time and effort to feel the same way I “naturally” felt 10 or 15 years ago. And I know things will continue to change as I’m getting older. I hope I’m up for the challenges and changes!

Questions: What’s your favorite form of exercise? What’s your exercise philosophy? Has your exercise philosophy changed over the years?
 
Be well,
Andrea

48 comments:

  1. exercise for me is a lot about stress relief! it helps me get ready or unwind after a busy day. and i honestly feel better about myself when i am active. i love running and yoga, but i also like active days of hiking and walking my dog.

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    1. Yes, exercise is the best stress relief!

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  2. once I got married- so much of everything I do is for health and making sure my husband and I have the longest, healthiest life together possible! :)

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  3. Your approach to exercise and overall health and wellness is very inspiring to me :) I do love barre classes, and I've noticed since I stopped doing them, my range-of-motion and overall flexibility is just not as good as it once was (plus I don't feel nearly as confident in a tank top, but I know that reasoning should be secondary!).

    At the moment I am just trying to stay consistent with walking daily. I know at my age I should/could be doing much more, but I find walking so non-intimidating that it's the only thing I KNOW I will do and enjoy, so consistency is never a problem. Once the baby comes I want to push myself more with resistance training and (hopefully) find a barre studio again.

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    1. Thanks, Lara! :)

      I think walking daily is great. It's really about finding what works for you and what you enjoy.

      Hopefully you'll find a barre studio with good child care. Then you and the little man can go together!

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  4. love this! i'm still in the exercise to look good and feel good phase - more about it making me feel happy than healthy - but as i'm fast approaching 30 i'm glad I'm already in a fitness regime and hope to shift the focus to health!!

    and oh my - i've done that too! (gained weight from the food even while exercising heavily!)

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    1. Yes, I think if you have a fitness regime established, it'll be natural to shift your focus to healthy one day... :)

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  5. I am the same way...exercise is all about health for me. I love knowing what I'm doing is setting myself up for the longest and healthiest life I can lead :)

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  6. Yay! Keep it up! :) Exercise makes me so happy!!!! It must happen every day! :)

    http://youtu.be/86nhXtV4wEU

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    1. Love the "happy hormones" that come from exercise! :)

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  7. I love this post. I have been experiencing a major paradigm shift in thinking lately and while I still feel like Bambi taking his first steps sometimes I know I am getting somewhere when I realize I want to exercise to feel better. For me it was always about losing weight. If it wasn't going to help me lose weight it wasn't worth doing. Now I want to get out and move for the sake of movement. Because it is good for my body. It is freeing. Freeing me from the tunnel vision of weight loss as my first priority.

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    1. I think you have come so far! I'm very proud of you!!!

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  8. I happen to think it's even MORE important to exercise as we age, simply because we are prone to such muscle loss (I think it's .5% per year??). When we lose muscle we lose the ability to balance and keep ourselves up right, and prevent falls. The more we exercise, the more this is prevented. Getting in the habit at a young as is very helpful. I try for 5 days a week, about 50 minutes, but in my world that's often broken up!! Like today I will do 20 minutes and then 30 minutes. Life is busy, but never too busy for a workout!

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    1. Yes, as we age we have to work out to maintain what was there "naturally" when we were younger. Great point about breaking up workouts!

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  9. Hi Andrea, I love your balanced approach to everything! Have a great rest of the weekend.

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    1. Thanks, Roz!

      Enjoy the rest of your weekend, too!

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  10. I agree with all of that. It gets harder the older you get to keep healthy and to stay in shape. But it's so worth it to make the time for it. You get so much in return -- more energy, a more toned physique and a more relaxed attitude. ;)

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    1. Yes, it's absolutely worth the time!

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  11. Great post! I love all these activities! I have been trying to do more outdoor activities like hiking. It's so nice to get outside and take advantage of the beautiful weather.

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    1. Hiking is definitely my favorite workout!

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  12. Hi Andrea! I love your fitness approach-as it is a twin sister to my own! And I also usually have no aches and pains (except this current thumb injury!).

    :-) Marion

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    1. I hope your thumb heals quickly!

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  13. I need to get better at exercising. This was never emphasized in my youth and I am paying for it now. Chasing after a baby is my favorite and obligatory form of exercise.

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    1. Chasing after a baby is great exercise (and exhausting)! :)

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  14. Great discipline Andrea...you are right about getting harder as we get older :)
    Lately I've been walking...if you can call this as exercise ;-)
    Hope you have a great week ahead!

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    1. Walking is great exercise! And so good for body and mind... :)

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  15. this is a really nice post Andrea. I think our reasons and ways of exercising changes over time. 15 years ago I started to exercise to lose weight and no matter if I like it or I feel doing it or not, I just made myself to do it. Nowadays exercise is part of me, just like eating/sleeping, it goes beyond to be physically fit, it calms my mind and makes me feel more energized. I still don't think about its long time health benefits and don't do it for healing reasons, but I can totally see myself to change my workouts accordingly later on! :)

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    1. Sounds like you are in a good place when it comes to exercise!

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  16. Andrea - some great points. I like to mix my exercise up, and do pilates, barre, running and strength training. I think keeping it interesting is important to doing it, but also its hard for any one exercise to hit everything.

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    1. Yes, mixing things up is so important!

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  17. This is great! I love that you make it a point to stay active and do what motivates you to feel good. :) I really want to try a barre class! I've recently developed a pelvic tilt and I've heard they can be great to help reallign..

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    1. Yes, it's all about what works for each one of us!

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  18. I couldn't agree more with this post - we may have to make more of an effort as we get older, but its so worth it!

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

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  19. This is such a great post - although I'm only 18 at the moment, I'm hoping to live a long and active life too. I think it's all about doing what feels good and what you enjoy. You're so right, too, sometimes it is more of a head thing! If I don't move for ages I feel terrible!

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  20. Yes the older I get the more and more exercising becomes about health. I also exercise for the simple fact tha I enjoy feeling strong. I like to be able to unload heavy carts at Costco myself. Lift big bags of dog food without struggling. Etc.

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    1. Yes, feeling strong feels good! :)

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  21. I know this is a late post, but just had to say I love it. I used to kill myself in the gym to overeat, but now I'm about balance and strength. I run, spin, kick box, lift and do barre and yoga and eat healthily. My mission now is to create desserts that don't make you feel like crap--after working hard all week, why blow it on something that throws you in a sugar coma!

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    1. Yes, balance & strength are so important! And so true about sugar...

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  22. I had a terrible ankle injury and two surgeries about 15 years ago! I never exercised when I was younger, well I did but I didn't think of it as exercise. I was just active, bike riding, walking, taking the kids to the park and chasing after them it was fun activities that involved moving.

    As I have gotten older it has become necessary to have established exercise routines. My favorite is of course walking and hiking and I am making an effort to include weight training into the mix to prevent bone loss.

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    1. I think young kids often come with quite a bit "built-in" exercise! :)

      And, yes, weight training is important to prevent muscle and bone loss.

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  23. I went back to ballet classes a year ago. By coming back slowly, I've been able to avoid injury (knock wood) and I am continuing to increase the intensity. Best of all, I'm loving it!

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    1. It's so important to find exercises you love!

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  24. Well said! I also exercise for health. I am in better shape now, in my late 40s, than I ever was in my 20s. I can't fix age-related gravity or childbirth scars but it's so nice to feel great! I am also having to make a slow comeback after breaking my foot a month ago. So frustrating but we have to look at the long-term!

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    1. Yes, it's all about how we feel and to maximize our chances to feel good in the future. Hope your foot will be all healed soon!

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