Older people in the gym

From 1987 to 2003, there was a meteoric rise in older people going to the gym. The jump was measured at 343% more people aged 55 or over joining the gym.

That number is still rising as people look to keep fit as they get older. After all, it does become a much tougher proposition and something all the more harder to keep on top of as we start to age. Yet still, 44% of adults over the age of 70 years enjoy a 20-minute walk less than once a year, or never.

So why is it more important for older people to go to the gym?

A whole range of reasons are medical. Men who burn 2,000 calories a week have a life expectancy two-and-a-half years longer than a bloke who doesn’t. Without exercise, aches and pains you’ve never experiences will be sure to creep in as your muscles and joints become less active. The gym will keep these moving and also keep them stronger. Exercising regualrly will slow down the decline in function your body goes through as you get older.

Older people who exercise are less likely to be at risk of illnesses such as type two diabetes, depression, dementia and some forms of cancers. That’s if you aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week.

As you get older your metabolism also slows down, which means chemical reactions happen slower in the body and in addition to that, the lower your muscle mass the slower your metabolism is likely to be. Therefore, it becomes much easier to put on weight as you get older and getting in the gym and eating the right things as a result won’t only make you lose or maintain your weight, but speed up your metabolism.

Exercising is also a great way to socialise. With the leap in number of elder gym goers over the years, you’re bound to meet someone a similar age as you with the same motivation for going to the gym, adding to your social life and you may even become gym partners to push each other that step further to become more active in later life.

Older people should aim for a slightly cardio-based workout to maintain and lose weight, but don’t underestimate the value of strength exercises.  A study on 90-year-old women in a nursing home found that a 12-week strength training programme took the equivalent of 20 years off their thigh muscle age, leading to improved mobility. Strength workouts can keep the brain more active and also allow you to do more during the day. Older people who don’t exercise regularly may find walking into town or standing at the bus stop a lot more difficult than those who find themselves on a treadmill frequently.

There are hundreds of gyms around aimed at older people, some of which even offer classes aimed at older people and their needs, make sure you make use of these and they’re also another great chance to socialise with a large group who all have the same aim, to stay fit.

Keeping motivated at the gym

It’s a very common problem. We all get the urge to lose a bit of weight so join a gym. Whether it’s to get a bigger bum or stronger arms, we usually join the gym with a long-term goal.

However, that’s not how it always pans out. With the stresses and strains of full time work or other occurrences, people often don’t last too long. Research by the Fitness Industry Association found of the people who join in January, 22% will have quit within 24 weeks and a further 20% would have quit by December, leaving just over half still with a gym membership.

Many more will decide not to cancel and leave their memberships to run. It’s a question of motivation, so how can we keep motivated to go to the gym?

  1. Set realistic goals

This is one of the key problems. People get excited when they first enter the gym and think they can go from Shrek to the Incredible Hulk in hours. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. You need to be more realistic. To knock a few seconds off a 5k run in a certain time period is realistic. Make sure your goals are SMART.

Specific- know what you want to do.

Measureable- Can you measure it? There’s no point setting a goal if you don’t know if you’ve completed it or not.

Achievable- Make sure it’s not too easy, you could go much further if you set goals too easy. Realistic- As mentioned, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Time bound- Set a time scale for your targets, take it month by month and you’ll be motivated for more than just four or five months.

 

  1. Find a partner

Try and find someone to go with. Training alone can be tough and lonely. Alongside another person your rest periods go much quicker with a quick chat. You can push each other, bounce ideas for new exercises off each other and achieve much more if there is someone else to help you and that shares similar goals.

  1. Make time for the gym

People nowadays are busy. Missing one gym session can easily become three or four and before you know it you’ve not been for a week. Your progress will regress quickly, especially when you first start going. Plan your sessions and when you’re going to go. If you have to miss one, try and make up for it later in the week or stay longer the next time you go.

  1. Find the right gym

There are numerous gyms out there so ensure you find the right one for you. Gyms have different atmospheres, equipment, sizes and people. Some are made for weight loss, some for muscle growth. Find a gym that suits your needs, goals and where you feel comfortable and you will thrive. You certainly won’t be put off.

  1. Give yourself rewards

Make sure your life doesn’t get consumed by the gym. Eat right, exercise often, embrace the lifestyle. But you certainly don’t need to become a protein and carb-consuming machine. Set a ‘treat’ night or cheat day that suits you and your goals. For some it may be once a week, some once a month. A small treat will do, such as a burger or a chocolate bar. Exercise with this day in mind; work it around your goals. If you achieve a goal, have a small treat before you start your next one, use it as motivation to keep working hard and achieving those goals and you will soon become lean and happy with your gym routine.

 

Effects of Alcohol

Effects of Alcohol

Many of us enjoy the odd tipple every now and again, whether it’s a quick pint after work on a Friday to celebrate the weekend or a special occasion such as Christmas or a birthday.

However, most of people don’t realise the effects alcohol has on your body or the effects that it has on your workout routine.

Alcohol-related deaths in the UK may slowly be rising but in 2014 there were over eight-and-a-half thousand deaths relating to alcohol through problems such as liver disease, alcohol hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Of those 8,697 deaths in 2014, 65% were in males. Liver disease and cirrhosis are serious results of alcohol but the UK’s most popular drug can also have less serious effects that affect your daily routine.

Over time, alcohol can affect areas such as the brain, heart and immune system in daily life. Alcohol can interfere with your brain’s communication pathways which can lead to increased mood swings and make it harder to think clearly.

One of the most common areas alcohol can damage is your liver. This is in two ways. As the liver breaks down the alcohol the chemical reactions involved in doing so can affect the cells in the liver leading to inflammation and scarring as it tries to repair itself. Alternatively, alcohol can damage the intestine and let toxins from the stomach into the liver which also leads to inflammation and scarring.

When it comes to the pancreas, alcohol causes a production of toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents successful digestion. Alcohol can also weaken the immune system which will make the body more liable to diseases, even small problems like a cold or cough.

But when it comes to exercise, exercising with alcohol in your body is not the wisest idea as alcohol is a diuretic. This means alcohol dehydrates your body and will be detrimental to your performance as you need to be hydrated whilst exercising to ensure the flow of blood around the body so that your muscles can receive the oxygen they need to exercise.

With alcohol in the body you will also produce less glucose leading to low bloody sugar. Good blood sugar levels are essential during exercise to make sure you have enough energy to exercise and perform to the standard you want.

Over a longer term period, alcohol will cause unusual heart rhythms, especially for irregular drinkers. The risk of unusual heart rhythms increases if you are exercising and can still affect you up to two days after you’ve had a drink.

Alcohol can also affect recovery from sports injuries. Boozing will slow down your recovery process after injury meaning you cannot exercise for longer and therefore prolonging your period of regression after weeks or even months of training.

Remember, alcohol contains sugar meaning that it is high in calories. A pint of Fosters contains 227 calories, whereas a pint of Strongbow contains 239 calories. A 100 gram glass of wine can have 83 calories in it, whilst a shot of vodka alone has 97, that’s before you mix it with something such as coke, red bull or lemonade. As alcohol is not a nutrient it can only be stored as fat, your body will prioritise breaking down the alcohol over fat and carbs, meaning if you want to lose weight, it will be much harder if you are a regular drinker.

Finally, alcohol also affects sleep. Studies have revealed those who drink more often have reduced sleep and increased wakefulness. A disrupted sleep cycle can reduce the output of the muscle-building human growth hormone by as much as 70%.

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