Glenn, age 70, is a great example of what can be accomplished through will power and consistent effort, no matter what your physical challenges might be.
Glenn was a Boy Scout, hiker, and camper in his early youth, then tennis player in college. He spent many years working as an entomologist while living in Lake Tahoe, where he pursued his true outdoor passion – alpine skiing.
The years of bashing through heavy Sierra and Cascade snow took their toll. He’s had major shoulder surgery, both knees replaced, and, most recently, his ankle fused. The ankle surgeries suspended his skiing.
However, Glenn wasn’t ready to give up his passion. He believed he might be able to get back on the slopes if he worked hard on his strength, mobility, and balance. So about a year ago, he started coming to CBF three days a week, no matter what – rain, snow, sleet or hail. No excuses.
Now he’s back on Mt. Bachelor, carving those turns.
All of us age 50+ are rickety, with no exceptions. However, how rickety is largely up to you.
Research shows exercise makes you less rickety. However, it must be the right type, volume, and intensity of exercises or you risk becoming more rickety because exercise is too challenging so you quit or injure yourself, or it not being challenging enough to produce results.
There’s no instrument, like a thermometer, to measure where you fall on the rickety scale. How rickety you are depends on physical and mental factors.
Physically, your ricketiness depends on genes, exercise/sports history, accidents, injuries, environment, and medical conditions. You get many of these assessed and translated into exercise dos/don’ts by doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists.
However, it’s on the mental side where it gets tricky. If your mindset is too rickety, which is encouraged too often in an ageist society and by some health professionals, you’ll avoid working/around your physical weaknesses fearing you might break. (This is especially true when it comes to the heart and spine.) Then your only exercise choices are lame “senior” programs that may make you ricketier, not rickety-less.
Likewise, if a person lacks a true grasp of their degrees of rickety, they can get into a program that is too advanced and demanding for them. That’s why CBF suggests that people screen themselves to see if our program is appropriate for them before showing up to try a class.
The advantage of being an experienced exerciser is s/he will have a good idea of where s/he lives on the rickety scale so s/he can exercise safely and effectively, as is the case with most CBFers.
From experience, you know there’s nothing to fear. You have activities you want to do now and in the future. You’re able to exercise in a demanding program and have fun doing it. You may get sore and tired, but you’re not going to break.
You may not be young, but you’re not that rickety.
At CBF, one of the funnest things we do is workout with medicine balls. For lots of reasons, this simple piece of equipment has more potential benefits for an older exerciser than a whole building full of machines. Watch this video, then we’ll explain why.
Following current research in exercise science, more and more exercise programs feature what are called loaded movements. Loaded movements, which involve moving light loads in a variety of directions and at varied speeds, mimic functional movements needed in real life and builds a strong, resilient, high-performing body.
Here are a few of the training advantages you get training with medicine balls:
First, it extends your range of motion in ways you can’t laying on a yoga mat or doing conventional calisthenics. The light load stretches your muscles and fascial tissue, thus improving mobility in ankles, hips, and shoulders and enabling a broader range of movement. As you get more flexible and fluid in your movements, you are less likely to suffer injuries when you carry awkward loads or must make an abrupt movement.
Second, you can develop power in ways that you never can with any other equipment because you can accelerate the load and then safely let it go. Thus you’re able to work at maximum force with no risk to joints because you suddenly must slow or stop the motion. Power is not just for athletes – you use it to get up out of a chair and shovel snow,
Third, medicine balls require diverse neuro-motor actions to coordinate the movements and force that is generated from the feet and lower legs, up to the hips, and into the shoulders and arms. Watch the sequencing that occurs in every one of the movements in the video!
Fourth, you become skilled in multiple planes – forwards, sideways, backwards, up and down. As muscles and joints are strengthened, you are able to engage in many more activities, whether sports or recreation, that create unique stresses on your body. An added bonus is better balance, whether standing or moving.
Medicine balls are just what the doctor ordered for older bodies. They’re fun, safe, and very effective.