Working out = putting stress on your body. There is no way around this no matter what you are doing you are exposing your body to stress. Now stress by way of exercise can produce higher calorie burns, increased muscle mass and generally good health. What about when you get older? As I have said before on my blog, I lift weights, moderately heavy weights. This is important for men over 50 to maintain testosterone levels but this has the negative impact of really putting stress on joints.
Warm ups are important. If you have been in any form of an exercise program you have heard of the concept. Simply put, you are warming your body up so that it is prepared for a stress movement. You don’t warm up for a walk, but you do for squats, you get the idea. The older you get the more important it is to “warm up”. Its more than just getting your heart rate elevated to increase blood flow, that’s an important part of it.
The more important part is to target the areas in the warm up you plan to work in that training session. If your squatting today, you need to stretch your hamstrings and release your hips. If you benching pressing you need to target your shoulders for stretches. The key is being very aware of the muscle group you are working that day, and plan your warm up accordingly. Now the over 50 part. What I do at 52 and what I recommend everyone over 50 do is have one day a week as a “warm up day”
What does that mean? That means you are exclusively using light exercise and stretching one day a week outside of your normal workout routines. Now maybe you aren’t here yet in your training. Maybe you go to the gym, do the treadmill leave. That’s cool you do you, this advice is really meant for people engaged in a moderate to mid-level training routine and are over 50. For those people, your recovery is more important as you do not have youth on your side. This “warm up day” is part of your recovery cycle.
What a “warm up day” looks like for me
- 30 min walk on the treadmill: I use the track which is flat and just do 30 min at about 3.0 speed. This loosens up my hips, gets blood moving, and helps me identify pain points. If it hurts when you are walking, you need to address it.
- Hamstring stretches: I put time in here, this is a pain point for me. My hamstrings are extremely tight. There are a few good stretches you can do, find one that works for you.
- Unlocking my hips: I sit Japanese style first, then flare out the bottom of my legs (calf area) and try and rest my butt on the floor in the gap. This will stretch your hips a lot. There are a lot of hip stretches out there, this one works for me.
- Snake pose & Planks: Snake pose is with two hands on the ground and push up locking your lower body on the ground. This stretches your lower back. Plank is a plank, lol they suck.
- I then stand and get a light bar and do trunk twists
- Next shoulders: I cross my right arm in front of my body and pull it at the elbow with my left, then switch sides.
- I then find an upright bar/machine and stretch my chest, then my back.
Now I realize I am not getting into great detail and posting pictures etc. You can find stretches online and or are doing something similar. For me this “warm up day” is about an hour (I rarely spend more than an hour in the gym per session). As I am leaving, I am aware of what “spot” has pain.
This is the benefit of the warm up day, you are hitting everything with a stretch nothing can escape. You will know if something isn’t right and or what needs to be rested going forward. Or in my case, what area needs icy hot (or for all my Gen X Friends out there, some bengay, lol). Remember to warm up before each work out with targeted stretches and start incorporating a “warm up day” into your routine, your 50+ year old self will thank you.
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