Exercises to age without pain, from a PT

northNewton was onto something (beyond pure physics) with the whole “a body in motion stays in motion” thing. Longevity experts are clear: If you hope to limit aches and pains as you age, staying active now is key.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean putting your body through grueling workout after grueling workout; in fact, it’s much simpler and less brutal than that.

How to exercise for healthy aging

When thinking holistically about exercise for longevity, there are some common themes to keep in mind.

Think about the function first

Different workouts can address different facets of aging, such as how high-impact workouts benefit bone strength. But nothing is as helpful for healthy aging as functional fitness. This fitness buzzword essentially means training in a way that offers strength that you can use in the movements you do in everyday life. And it doesn’t matter if it’s cardio or weight lifting.

“If an exercise produces an adaptation that helps someone be more able to do what they need to do, then it’s functional,” explains Ryan Chow, DPT, founder of Reload, a physical therapy and fitness practice where he frequently works with aging and elderly populations.

“Function is defined as ‘useful, ‘purpose,’ things like bending, twisting, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, squatting, and carrying,” adds Ingrid Clay, CPT, trainer at Centr, a personalized training app. Functional fitness often works on flexibility and balance, which are key components of healthy aging, as they help prevent falls and injuries, Clay adds. Functional exercises are designed to help you, for example, safely get out of a car or down stairs – real-life movements we need to do to stay independent as we age.

do it often enough

It’s not just about how you move, but how much time you pass by moving Dr. Chow recommends following the physical activity guidelines established by the World Health Organization or the American Heart Association: 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise throughout the week and progressive resistance training (also known as training). of strength) targeting all major muscle groups twice a week.

“Mounting evidence suggests this can reduce all-cause mortality by 40 percent,” says Dr. Chow. “Perhaps more importantly, meeting these guidelines also gives you (higher) quality of life.”

Vary your workouts

For best results as you age, avoid doing the same type of exercise over and over again. Instead, mix things up. Even if walking is more your thing, be encouraged to try a yoga class or hop on a bike once in a while. This ensures that you are moving your body through all planes of motion and maintaining a strong heart, lungs, and muscles. “Doing both resistance and cardiovascular training can keep your metabolic and cardiovascular systems healthy, while maintaining the health and function of your muscles and joints so you can stay healthy as you age,” says Dr. Chow.

Five strength exercises you can do at home for healthy aging

Whether you’re 25 or 75, these functional exercises recommended by Dr. Chow will help prepare you for a lifetime of safe and comfortable movement. Add them to your weekly routine, along with regular bouts of aerobic exercise for a regimen focused on longevity.

Isometric split squat

“This exercise is related to balance and getting up and down from the floor,” says Dr. Chow.

  1. With one foot in front and the other behind you, bend both knees, forming a 90 degree bend with both legs.
  2. Hold for as long as you can, aiming to work up to two minutes.

Modification: If 90 degrees is too deep to bend for comfort, hold the position a little higher or use a sturdy object to lightly touch for support.

Supported Deep Squat

“This exercise trains both strength and mobility in the hips and knees,” says Dr. Chow. Clay adds that the lower-body strength you build with squats “is important for maintaining balance and mobility as we age.”

  1. Stand in front of a closed door that does not swing towards you. Feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
  2. Grab the door handle for leverage and pull as you bend both knees to slowly squat down, taking five seconds to get there.
  3. Pause at the bottom for a second.
  4. Slowly push through the soles of your feet to return to a standing position, taking five seconds to get there.

Note on form: Keep tension on the door handle to engage your upper body, which helps keep your back straight throughout the movement.

Wall sit with heel raise

This exercise trains the soleus and Achilles tendon to maintain the ability to be springy and absorb shock in the hips, knees, and ankles,” says Dr. Chow.

  1. Stand with your back to a wall. Press your head, upper back, and butt against the wall as you ease your feet away from it and begin to slide down to a sitting position with your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees.
  2. Raise your heels without moving anything else. Aim to hold for 60 seconds.

Progression: Once you can hold the wall with your heel raised for one minute, try to hold as long as possible on one leg and then the next.

bat wing

“This exercise trains the muscles of the upper back to maintain the ability to stand upright,” says Dr. Chow. “These are your anti-gravity muscles to limit the negative effects of slouching and slumping over.”

  1. Begin by standing with your hands behind your ears, palms facing forward, and elbows open.
  2. Engage your lats (the large muscles in your sides and upper back) to pull your elbows down and out to your sides, squeezing your shoulder blades.
  3. Squeeze and hold for five seconds.

Form Tip: Don’t crunch in when you lower your elbows to your sides. Keep your chest up. The arms will imitate the letter W.

beast tracking

“This move trains your shoulders, core, thighs, and most importantly, your toes,” says Dr. Chow. “Maintaining the ability to land on the toes to allow momentum during fast activities like running or brisk walking is important, as well as managing stress on the big toe joint, which can prevent the development of bunions.” .

  1. Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your toes tucked under.
  2. Engage your core to lift your knees off the ground into a hover.
  3. From here, slowly crawl forward, backward, and from side to side, aiming to keep moving and keep your knees up for 30 seconds.

Form Tip: Try to keep your back flat and your hips parallel to the ground.

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