Four Tips for Making Your Health a Priority

Let’s face it: getting older isn’t easy. Injuries take longer to heal, metabolisms stall, and the daily grind of life’s stress can wear us down. I’m 47 years old and know first-hand that it’s harder to stay in good shape now than it was when I started in the fitness field more than 20 years ago. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (or in this case, smarter), and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my own aging process and that of our clients.  

If you’re also over 40, here are a few ways to make your health a priority:

  • Less can be more. Instead of doing the two-hour marathon workouts of 20 years ago, it’s better to shorten your workouts and focus instead on making every minute count by focusing on doing the best exercises for your needs with perfect form on every rep. And while a certain amount of intensity and challenge is required to get the most out of your time at the gym, not every set of every exercise has to be done to complete exhaustion.
  • Be patient. After an ACL reconstruction in 2004 and more recent torn labrums in both shoulders (I have a bad habit of launching myself over the handlebars of my mountain bike and landing on outstretched arms), it’s become clear to me that, while time, and sometimes surgery, heals all wounds, the older we get, the longer the healing can take. Understand that injuries are a part of living an active lifestyle, and they will take more time to heal the older you get. But, like I tell my clients, “I’d rather see an orthopedist for a biking injury than a cardiologist for bypass surgery.”
  • Recovery rules. You should be into exercise for the long haul, and for you to maintain your body’s optimal health, strive for a balance between training and recovery.  
    • We recommend that our clients use self-myofascial release (foam rolling) and massage therapy to promote blood flow, improve range of motion and speed up recovery.
    • Based on the evaluation of posture, there are specific stretches geared toward your body’s tightest areas and targeted corrective exercises to strengthen the weak muscles that oppose the tight muscles. While it may seem like this kind of low-intensity maintenance work may not help you lose weight or build strong muscles, without this focus on recovery, your workouts won’t be as effective and you’ll be more likely to injure yourself.  
    • Finally, the link between sleep, hydration and sound nutrition and our body’s ability get full recovery from our workouts is undeniable.  Look for a future article just on these three topics!
  • Joints matter.  Ankles, knees, hips and shoulders can deteriorate and become less stable over time. In order for your body to move as well as possible, it’s crucial that you keep your joints as healthy as possible. Consider including 5-10 minutes of rotator cuff, lumbar stabilization and hip mobility exercises to workouts to strengthen the muscles and tendons that attach at the joints.  

Even if you don’t have any issues currently, I’d suggest adding some joint stabilization exercises as preventative medicine. There is also evidence supporting the use of chondroitin and glucosamine as well as fish oil and turmeric as effective joint supplements. I’ve been using a joint support formula for a few years now and believe it has made a difference.

Take good care of yourselves.

Andrew Henderson is the owner/operator of Fitness Together.