10 Tips for Investing in Fitness

By PCYC Lang Park Fitness Professional, Leigh Kable

Although no-one’s fitness future can be bullet proofed, wise choices can give you a happy and healthy future in retirement.

Like financial planning it requires many years of investment for a significant return of capital. Poor or risky investments result in low dividends or in most cases, no returns at all.

For example, a safe fitness future might begin with an exercise investment of three to five times a week for, say, 30 years.  Through consolidation and minor adjustments over the next twenty years, individualised modifications could cater even for those who are chair-bound.  Exercise for any age is the mantra!

Conversely, an unsafe fitness policy could contain hidden pitfalls with small print too fine to read after the age of 65.  Example:  Trying to reach Everest base camp after 40 years of imprinting the couch may not be achievable in a high-risk short investment time.

The following 10 tips are fitness investment strategies for a happier and healthier retirement.

These positive lifestyle changes will help build that capital to hike, run, lift weights, and hold a plank, even though the fine print is getting small!

  1. Lift weights! A healthy amount of muscle mass safeguards against weakness which decreases the likelihood of falls or other injuries. Good balance in later years relies on effective muscle control. Muscle wastage due to lack of exercise or inadequate nutrition is avoidable in the absence of previous medical conditions or illnesses. It is never too late to start exercising.
  2. Make your nutrition a priority! There is plenty of information out there. Generally, avoid fad diets, yo-yo dieting, or any diet that excludes a whole food group. Remember your hydration too.
  3. Apply the 3 R’s to fitness! Resistance, Rugged, and Regular. Weight training affects the body like no other form of exercise – force is exerted against the ligaments which in turn stimulate cells to lay down bone tissue, therefore maintaining bone density if nutrition is adequate. It also assists in reducing the effects of osteoporosis.
    ‘Rugged’ describes the intensity of your workout! You need to learn to exercise at an intensity that will provoke change. Sometimes, this needs to be determined by a health or fitness professional.
    Regular: Three times a week for weights is optimal for a full body workout, twice is still OK, once a week is better than nothing, but the body will struggle to maximise the gains from training.
  4. Posture! Bad posture (slouching, forward head posture, rounded shoulders) takes years to create changes which accommodate these bad habits. It is a mighty and daunting task to undo, and much easier to address them before postural change creates injury, gait issues, or chronic pain.
  5. Avoid self-diagnosis! Give Dr Google a wide berth and realise that your friend’s physio program was tailored to them, not you! If you have a problem that is affecting your health or fitness, seek appropriate help.
  6. Sleep adequately! Sleep needs change throughout life, so get what you need.
  7. Keep track of your inner health by getting a yearly blood test! Deficiencies or higher than normal readings of things like cholesterol, liver enzymes, kidney function, or fasting blood sugar levels can all be monitored by your doctor and reveal gradual changes which can be dealt with more easily in early stages, rather than at an acute stage when disease has set in. Sometimes a simple adjustment to diet can have a great effect.
  8. Maintain a youthful outlook on life! Exercise itself positively enhances mood, along with all the other great benefits. The social aspect of group fitness, whether indoors or outdoors helps provide diversity in life, combats isolation or loneliness, and helps create a network of peers in later life. Over 50’s exercisers all report that the social aspect of their weekly exercise is as important as the physical benefits.
  9. Add Cardio! Aerobic activity can be done every day. Improvements in oxygen uptake will occur outside of normal output. For example, a slow walk around the block will not tax the body enough to provoke effective change, but a faster walk which might include a couple of hills would provide a better outcome. Aerobic activity for the older adult need not mean running. Aerobic just means ‘with oxygen’ and can be any activity which lifts the heart rate enough to reach a training zone, sustainable for 30 minutes or more. Training zones vary according to individual factors.
  10. Maintain Mobility! Flexibility naturally decreases as part of the aging process, but with care and regular stretching this can be minimised. Hydration is an important factor in keeping all tissues hydrated so that not only the muscles are well hydrated, but also the surrounding and supporting tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, fascia, joint capsules, and skin. Dynamic stretches can be done prior to a workout, (e.g., leg swings or hip circles), and static stretches are done after a workout to allow muscles to return to resting length.