Sunday, May 16, 2010

aging fitness

yesterday i met with a 61 y/o attorney with whom i'd met two years ago to help with his knee problems. he stays active and is fit tho a bit paunchier than he'd like to be...because he also enjoys drinking a few in the evening. so, while his wt hasn't really changed, and he does exercise vigorously several times a week, he is now recognizing that he needs to take care of his body better, and more efficiently. hence, he came to see me again.

several years ago, a wise gentleman in his late 60s with whom i was training at least once/wk but who was actively training at home, requested that i provide him a de minimus workout - one that he could do quick and easy anywhere that would keep him healthy enough to be able to do anything and any activities with a reduced risk of pain or injury. so i gave him about a 7-10 min workout, with some core exercises and basic upper and lower body exercises, virtually all body wt, some with tubes. he still does many of these after all these years.

now, could or should anyone do more? yes, in an ideal world, we are physically active more hours/day than we are sedentary. but that world is third, and we live in a modern, industrialized, mechanized, computerized, sedentary world. so how much do we need, and of what?

for the fellow who came to see me yesterday, with a bad left shoulder and knee, much of what i offered him was a deletion of unnecessary if not dangerous exercises, plus a few compressions of unnecessary amounts of particular exercises- like the 10 minute planks he was doing in a class environment, plus a few rehab type exercises so that he could get his shoulder in a place where he could do more safely. i offered that he start doing a few days/wk of tabata sprints - 20 sec work/10 sec recovery x 4, building up to 8; two sets, interspersed with a few minutes of gentle recovery; making up a total of less than 20 mins of cardio that would give him significant aerobic, anaerobic, and metabolic benefits.

and he was happy.

my point is, one could work out long, hard, or long, easy, or not at all. but the long is the killer - it's the main excuse for not doing anything fitness-wise: time. so coming up with short, hard for those who are fit, or short, easy for those who are not, should be the aim of all fitness pros. after all, aging is tough enough. why waste valuable time trying to fight it when in fact it may actually hasten it.


  1. can you help me understand how jumping/pounding can improve bone density? does running provide that? i've also heard that biking can reduce bone density/muscle mass. as a young-er person with low bone density i'm trying to understand. thanks.

  2. thanks for asking.
    a few articles in the november issue of ACSM's MSSE journal discussed this issue in depth. the question of what influences bone mass more - muscle contractions or impact loading - seemed to point more toward impact than muscle. thus, swimmers and cyclists tend to have lower bone density than same age/gender athletes of a more pounding sort, such as basketballers, volleyballers, and even runners. so, while biking does not actually reduce bone density, we can state that it does not enhance bone density. if this is a current or future concern of yours, consider resistance training - with loaded squats and lunges - and/or weight bearing, impact loading exercises - but i suspect ellipticals and stairmasters won't satisfy this demand so stay on solid ground. good luck.


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