Fitness After 50: Exercises for the unmotivated
By Vicki Morgan, CPT
My last two columns were specifically for people who are, for one reason or another, completely unmotivated.
Whether you’re down because of grief, loneliness, depression, injury or addiction, down is down and there’s not much you can do about it. Lord knows you’ve tried, and you just can’t seem to “snap out of it.” The key to your cure may lie somewhere in the area of diet, sobriety, therapy, medication or companionship. I have no idea.
But one thing I DO know … exercise is clinically proven to cure the blues. The hard part is getting motivated. In my last two columns, I explained just a couple of easy ways that you can start moving. Some folks have thanked me profusely; and I thank them back.
It has been a pleasure helping my 50-plus fans get strong again.
With that said, it is with a heavy heart that I tell you; this is my last column for Life After 50. I love the people who run this magazine. They are friends of mine. They care about senior citizens like no other organization I know. And believe me when I say … they don’t make a ton of money doing this. It is a labor of love for them. I will miss them. I love the readers who email me month after month with questions. I will miss you all.
What do I want as a parting gift? I want you to get off your butt and get moving, if at all humanly possible. This message is tough to deliver. But this is my last column and it’s time to dish out the medicine. Here it is. If you don’t move, you die. You die anyway, just FYI. But deciding to strive for optimum health, whatever that looks like for you, is a proven game-changer. A joy-bringer. A muscle and bone builder. A legacy-leaver. And still … your life may be cut short.
A few short months ago, I wrote a column for this magazine about three very strong and healthy ladies in their 70’s. I am sorry to tell you that one of them, Brigitte Majors, has unexpectedly passed away. She started weight training 35 years ago, 2 hours a day, 6 days a week, and never missed a day. She stayed at Flex Gym for over 30 years and knew all the guys. About two months ago she had stomach pain which turned out to be pancreatic cancer (Which surprised her because she expected to live another 10 years). Within two months of the diagnosis her muscles gave out. Although she was weak and in a lot of pain, she managed to visit Germany one last time and say her goodbyes. On the day she passed, the entire gym was filled with big, tough bodybuilders, hugging each other and crying.
It’s pointless to exercise so that you can live LONG. Because you never know. Instead, exercise to live WELL. If you’re healthy, active and determined, that’s the legacy you will leave for whoever happens to be watching. In Brigitte’s case, it was hundreds of rough-and-tumble weightlifters. If you’re a complainer and negative and unhealthy because of your unwillingness to suck it up and change, that’s the legacy you will leave.
Meanwhile, let’s make the most of today. There are tons of “feel good” exercises that you can do at home. Deep breathing is one of my favorites. You’d be surprised how much energy it takes to expand your diaphragm and ribcage, fill your lungs completely with air and blow out slowly and evenly. It’s work, believe me. Another one is raising your hands and clapping to music. As time goes on, it becomes a cardio workout.
If you can’t raise your hands, gently smack your thighs to music. Try marching in place as you sit at the edge of your couch. March high! You can be a couch potato and exercise at the same time! Do the “twist” while sitting. Just don’t overdo! Oblique muscles get sore pretty easily, and weak backs have a tendency to get “tweaked.”
Sit on the edge of your couch and rock back and forth. Tighten up your abdominal muscles as you do this. Use every muscle in your body to support this lift. Start with a shallow angle and increase the range of motion when you develop the strength. And here’s my parting gift to you: If you suffer from back pain, try walking around your house with tight glutes, stiff legs and stiff arms. It looks funny, like a tin man, but it takes the stress off your low back. It also recruits the rest of your muscles to support you as you walk. Don’t do any of these without your doctor’s blessing.
Finally, try your best to stay on the sunny side of life and live well.
Vicki Morgan A.C.E. is a Senior Strength & Fitness Trainer at Flex Gym and Fitness. She is also a podcast producer. You can reach her at victoryfitnessteam.com. Consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. If you experience pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to take the place of any treatment or activity your physician has deemed necessary.