Starting and keeping up a healthy lifestyle can be challenging. In some instances the goals can be superficial. Other times it is health related. Layoffs can happen due to injury/illness, stress, and/or being overwhelmed with responsibilities. But you have the opportunity to get back on track. Don’t deceive yourself, it will be challenging. You must have the perseverance and consistency to press through. Strength and conditioning will not maintain on its own. There is never room to be complacent.
If you have taken a long layoff from exercising how did it feel once you started back? Did it feel like the first day? The time invested in being active was building a foundation of strength and conditioning. Time off will impact both. Many studies have been done to track what happens to the body once a person stops training.
Intensity plays a major role in how much our exercise induced adaptations are reversed over time, both in terms of strength and endurance. The more intense your workouts were, the more you retain when you stop training, even for prolonged periods of time.
As we age continuing to stay active becomes imperative to function at a maximum capacity. “We lose so much muscle as we age that by the time we’re 70, we only have about 50 to 55 percent of our muscle mass left,” says Beatrice Edwards, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine and director of the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “That explains why we feel weak and tired as we age, and we can prevent some of that with weight training.”
Cardiovascular fitness is related to age, gender, exercise habits, heredity and cardiovascular clinical status. Maximum values occur between ages 15 to 30 years, decreasing with age. At the age of 60, the mean maximal aerobic power in men is approximately three fourths of that at the age of 20. With sedentary lifestyle, there is a 10 % reduction in the mean maximal aerobic power per decade, the reduction with an active lifestyle being less than 5 %.
Studies have shown that weight lifting can prevent bone loss and may even help build new bone. In one study, postmenopausal women who participated in a strength-training program for a year saw significant increases in their bone density of the spine and hip, two areas affected most by osteoporosis in older women. Developing a strength and balance/stability program, especially targeting the hips and core, can help prevent falls with these women.
Continuing strength training with age will assist in performing your daily tasks and enjoy recreational activities. Strength can serve as the fountain of youth. It is combats the age-related declines in muscle mass, bone density and metabolism. It is an effective way to increase muscle strength and to shed unwanted inches. Strength training also helps to decrease back pain, reduce arthritic discomfort, and help prevent or manage some diabetic symptoms.
Frequent physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Physical activity lowers risk of serious conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis and colon cancer, to name a few. It also helps in the management of high cholesterol and arthritis pain.
Remind yourself why you are staying active. Besides all the aesthetic benefits it is more important to keep going for overall health. The quality of your life depends on it.