Exercise in the 40 to 60- year age range is a critical component of successful aging. Exercise is now known as the most important tool to prevent dementia and cognitive decline. Exercise generates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is the best fertilizer for healthy brain cells. The benefit of exercise for the body is just one more bonus.
Starting an exercise program should generally follow a release by your physician that you can safely pursue various levels of workout intensity. I generally encourage my patients and coaching clients to follow some simple principles; make it convenient, fun and productive. These three tenants enhance the probability of this practice to be a lifelong habit and having a group or person you work out with will greatly enhance accountability.
I then encourage them to pick some anaerobic exercises and match that with some weight-bearing exercises. We all need some of both to maintain cardiopulmonary health and muscle, bone and structural health respectively. Common options include walking, bicycling, swimming, and cardiac machines for the aerobic component and weightlifting, gravity exercises, yoga, and physical yard work, for the weight-bearing portion. Many exercises include some of both of course and these may include high-intensity practices that vacillate between weight-bearing and aerobics. Frequently people overlook the weight-bearing exercise in this generates most of the "youth-promoting" benefits while maintaining the structure are soft tissue needs to age vigorously.
I generally suggest doing aerobics twice a week and weight-bearing twice a week and then leaving 2 to 3 days for mixed and hybrid opportunities are trying something different of course. There is frequently the flawed mindset of more is always better but now we know clearly that that is not always the case. First, we need to spend more detoxification and recovery work after long workouts and if we jump into another workout immediately, we will never acquire the benefits of the first one. We expose ourselves to injury with incomplete recovery. We also know that workout intensity trumps workout length. Once one is comfortable that they can do certain exercises safely, a hard physically challenging exercise gets more growth hormone and then androgens to up-regulate our energy-producing cellular mitochondria and thus improve our fitness than a slow gradual workout.
As we get into the workout mindset, try to remember to stay in nostril breathing to the point where you must breathe through your mouth. Nostril breathing keeps one relaxed with greater nitric oxide delivery which dilates the bronchial airways and the blood vessels that help deliver oxygen to the muscles as the demands increase. Additionally, nostril breathing will help pace ourselves and avoid rapid mouth breathing which may foster stress and vascular constriction. This brief discussion on oxygen and its delivery underscores the importance of having a well-ventilated workout space and start the exercise with good hydration.
One of the best exercises is a blend of many good things and that would be social dancing. This process allows some mild-to-moderate aerobics, some weight-bearing moves as you swing your partner, but also combines the cognitive enhancement of pacing oneself to the music with the emotional boost of human touch of your partner. I end with this because of the importance of making any exercise program fun and uplifting.
When one is just getting into exercise, there may be some trepidation of what one can tolerate. I always suggest start slow but work toward lofty goals. You can get stronger at any age and reclaim the fittest time of your life within some margin. If one is concerned about their health and exercise tolerance, try not to exercise alone and know your limits. I frequently recommend my elder post 40 year- old clients to consider having a ready source of medical grade oxygen nearby. Just like in an emergency, the first thing they offer you is nasal or mask oxygen delivery. Sometimes this is available at hospital-based fitness centers, but one can get the same safety cushion using a product called Oxygen-Plus. View my video about Oxygen-Plus to learn the benefits. This is medical grade canned O2 can be easily administered, and five to ten breaths will bring you back to stability quickly. I also strongly recommended for medically fragile patients who suffer from cardiopulmonary challenges keep this tool in their purse or car for when they get short of breath or strained. Ultimately a good program of exercise will improve the efficiency of oxygen delivery and oxygen utilization throughout the body. Until then, it never hurts to have a fallback plan in your gym bag or purse if you need it.
Remember, Be Your Own Best Doctor,
Disclaimer: This information is not meant as direct medical advice. Readers should always review options with their local medical team. This is the sole opinion of Dr. Meakin based on a literature review at the time of the blog and may change as new evidence evolves.