Exercise and age. Should Nana and Granddad be given a set of Kettlebells this Christmas? This blog post has been long overdue as it came about when I interviewed my own parents on their exercise habits over summer. Being the loving (grand)parents they are, we naturally want to have them around for as long as we can. So we started talking Health Coaching for people in the prime of their lives.
We started discussing the negative effects of the dreaded subcutaneous adipose tissue a.k.a. belly fat. It is a strong indicator of our overall health and tends to increase with age, especially in men. A percentage reduction in waist size has a similar percentage reduction in heart attack risk with men in the USA according to a 2008 Harvard Medical Study. This means that if I drop my belly fat 10%, I drop my risk of a heart attack with 10% as well. Drop your waist line by 50%, reduce your risk of a heart attack by 50%. You get the idea. Know your waist circumference and measure it once a month to track any gain or loss. To measure it, find the skinniest section of your torso, typically right above your belly button. Use a flexible tape measure against your bare skin. A great way to check for a general guideline on the need to loose your belly fat is the Height-to-Waist ratio.
Interestingly enough, what tends to be recommended by your physician might not be the best way to trim your waist line. Ask anybody what their doctor recommends and they will say: "(s)he suggested I should move more". While this is no doubt beneficial for your overall health, it might not be the best way to loose your belly fat.
There are three components of fitness our prime-time age population should focus on to loose this burden of belly fat. Strength training, Flexibility and Cardio. Sure, you should definitely keep doing those long walks. But the more effective way to loose your belly fat is through strength training. We tend to think that we loose our strength because we get older. But because we get older, we typically do less and therefore loose strength. There is no evidence suggesting that elderly will have less benefit from a strength training program than your 21-year-old gym rats. It is however good practice to go and consult your physician before you throw yourself into a vigorous exercise routine if you have not done it for a while. This is true for both 21 year olds and 50+.
My dad now proudly said to me that he starts his day with 20 push-ups and that he has better posture during the day because of his work-out routine. He does not know it yet but Santa will have to do some heavy lifting to give my parents their Christmas presents this year. The Kettlebell may be unfamiliar to our prime-time age group but it is an excellent way to build (core) strength and functional fitness. Not being an expert on Kettlebell work-outs, I will also buy him this Kettlebell Workout Challenge. Nana can join in with her lighter version of the Kettlebell as well!
Word of advise, choose high-intensity exercise if you get the go-ahead from your doctor. A study published in 2008 in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” demonstrated that this form of exercise is most effective at reducing stubborn belly fat. The American Council on Exercise also recommends strengthening your core muscles, back and abdominals, two to three times a week. This won’t cause you to lose belly fat, but it will tone your waistline and help prevent injuries. Happy lifting!
P.S. I would love to hear from you. Leave a note in the comment section below.