This blog has been written by Mark Laybourn, Personal Trainer here at Unique Results.
We all know movement is important when we are kids but what changes as we age? How should we treat exercise as we age and does that ever change no matter how old you are? Is it really just a number?
From birth we start to move. We start to strengthen our muscles from the head down, looking around, taking in our surroundings, absorbing information from all around, both mentally and physically. Just fell over? “Oh, that hurt, won’t do that again” learn and move on.
We learn to sit up straight. We learn to use our hands, fingers, arms and legs. Finally, we master the ability to stand and walk, run and jump. Then the fun begins, charging around like a missile. Walking, running, climbing, falling and get back up to do it all again. The joys of being young, agile and supple with nothing to worry about. Finally we go to school and it all changes.
Or does it? EXERCISE AT SCHOOL This stage of life has to be done, it’s fundamentally important. Schools these days are very, very good. Particularly since a lady called Elaine Wyllie, founder of the “Daily Mile” introduced this into schools across the country. Every day the children are encouraged to walk, jog or run a mile. This has been extremely successful, not only in helping reduce childhood obesity but following this outdoor activity (in all weathers) it improves their general wellbeing, behaviour and concentration levels.
Allow me to introduce you to the Springfield FC U12 football team, a great bunch of lads. Fit, fast, athletic, strong and above all, supportive of each other. A real team spirit. They are also at an age where bodies are changing, mentally and physically. They are all in their 8th year of full-time education, working hard with long days. Schools are now very aware as to how important movement and exercise is so their timetable includes very good selection of regular exercise, both during and after school hours. I was asked by the team’s coach to put together a warm-up routine for the team to use regularly before their games. Recognising the fact that as the boys are getting older their muscle mass is changing, their getting stronger and, as a result, tighter too. Their warm-up routine involves plenty movement for the joints and muscles and plenty of stretching. This is something the team have come to expect every week and now, enjoy. They’re more educated as to how important movement and warming up is for them. Particularly now their chosen sport is becoming more physically demanding as they get older. As a team they’ve played fantastic football and scored some quite outstanding goals. I wish I could take the credit for this. However, that of course is down to the dedication, knowledge and enthusiasm of the coaches. Hopefully the warm-up/movement routine that is being implemented goes some way to preparing them correctly for their games.
So what about movement as we age? We may not necessarily be performing at high class sporting events or standing on a podium awaiting a gold medal. Or maybe we are. Whether it be a marathon, a bike ride, a long arduous walk through the hills and valleys or just quality of life with your loved ones, movement is key. Move to warm up, move to warm down, move to recover. Not sitting still watching life pass us by. Just move and move well, move safely and move often. If you recall from my article in the October issue I mentioned 2 of my family members. One moves a lot and one doesn’t. The results speak for themselves. A long, quality life is what we all strive for and regular activity is crucial for that, but it should be enjoyable too. It doesn’t have to be the fastest run, the longest bike ride, your heaviest lift or climbing the toughest mountain (unless that’s your thing). It has been scientifically proven that regular movement, even just bodyweight movement will help to keep joints supple and mobile. Strength and suppleness will add longevity to joints and muscles as we age. Allowing us all to get the most from life, whatever it may be.
Age is no barrier. It certainly doesn’t have to stop you and it’s not an excuse to sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit, although you can be excused from time to time. When I played football for the Old Chelmsfordians in my 20’s I used to train without fail every week and play every weekend. I remember a certain gentlemen, some of you who are reading this may know exactly who I’m talking about, a former chairman of the club and an ex-professional footballer. At the time I was playing he would’ve been over 65. He trained every week with us throughout the football season and during the summer, he never stopped. It was what he loved, it had always been his passion and my goodness when he tackled, you knew you’d been tackled. He was active, fit and strong throughout his life and a lovely chap.
A prime example of being active throughout life, increasing longevity and adding quality to his senior years. As you know at Unique Results we are constantly working with you to keep you moving, moving well and moving safely. Not necessarily raising the intensity bar level to the point of exhaustion but to simply help you stay healthy and strong for many years to come. Our wonderful community of supportive members are always encouraging each other, regardless of ability level.