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,