Pumping Iron Over 60

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If you’re over 60 and you’ve decided to start lifting weights, you’ll enjoy many health benefits, including stronger muscles and bones. You can strengthen your body using free weights, such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. Beginners, no matter your age, should start slowly with light weights and focus on proper form to reduce your risk of injury. You should seek instruction by a qualified fitness trainer if you decide not to use a gym. See your doctor for a complete checkup before you start any exercise program. Always warm-up before working out and cool-down afterward.

Beginners should design a workout routine that works all your muscle groups in 2 workouts each week. Don’t lift weights on consecutive days because your muscles need at least one day to rest and recover. Train a different muscle group at each workout to avoid overuse injuries. Work your upper body one day and your core and lower body at the next workout. Lift slowly and focus on your form. Improper form or lifting too quickly can cause injuries. Begin by doing 8 repetitions of each exercise followed by 1 minute of rest. Do another set of 8 repetitions after you rest. Increase the number of repetitions, the number of sets, or the amount of weight when you can do 3 sets without becoming fatigued.

You can use dumbbells to work your upper and lower body. Dumbbell squats work your core, hips, quadriceps and calves. Shoulder shrugs work your arms, shoulders and upper back. Biceps curls are easy for beginners to perform and work your biceps and forearms. If you really want to focus on your upper body and chest, do dumbbell overhead press exercises. Simply holding a set of dumbbells when you do exercise, such as lunges and crunches, adds extra weight resistance.

Barbells are versatile free weights that train the most muscle tissue in the shortest amount of time. People over age 60 should start working with barbell weights slowly with light weights and focus intently on form. Never hold your breath when lifting weights because holding your breath can cause your blood pressure to increase rapidly. Squats, deadlifts and presses are functional lifts that mimic the movements you make when you reach, lift, bend over, sit down and stand up. You can easily add and remove weight to a barbell to suit your fitness and strength level.

Kettlebells are large, heavy weights with a handle. These weights can be used in a number of ways to help strengthen your entire body. Begin with the lightest kettlebells available and gradually work your way up to heavier weights. Kettlebells can be used to work your entire body. Exercises that beginners can do include the half Turkish get up, kettlebell squats, deadlifts, and two-arm swings. Do 8 repetitions of each exercise, rest for as long as you need to and repeat the set.


Nutrition for Older People

Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly for CDC PD

Good nutrition is important at every age, but it is especially important to eat a variety of foods when we become older. Older people may be at risk for age-related diseases, such as stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis, arthritis and diabetes. A life-long healthy lifestyle is the best way to reduce your risk of age-related disease, but it is never too late to start eating a healthy diet. Older people are at risk of losing muscle mass. Protein is critical to maintain muscle mass and to repair injured muscle tissue. Eggs, fish, poultry and lean beef are good sources of protein. Nuts, soy and low-fat dairy also provide sufficient protein to help maintain muscle mass. Adequate protein and remaining active can help reduce age-related muscle loss. 
Older people who may not be as active as others need fewer calories but still need carbohydrates for energy. The sugar fructose in fruits and lactose in milk and dairy products can help you boost your energy level. By eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, you will provide your body with vitamins, fiber and trace minerals that are necessary for good health and keep your energy levels up. Some aging people are less active so they need fewer calories. Try to stay active throughout your life, but adjust your caloric intake to account for less activity. Your doctor or a dietitian  can help you determine your energy needs and adjust your diet to meet calorie needs. 
Limit the amount of fats in your diet. Replace saturated fats from beef, butter, high-fat dairy, processed foods and margarine with natural oils like corn, soy and olive oils. Many processed foods including cookies, frozen foods, crackers and read-to-serve packaged meals contain hydrogenated fats also called trans fats. These fats can cause plaque buildup in your arteries, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Remain active as long as you can by walking, swimming and stretching your body. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.