Hi everyone. My name is Tom Beyer, and I am a certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Yoga Teacher, and I’d like to welcome you to “Exercises for Life.”
What’s great about these workout options is that they can be done anywhere—at home, or at the gym, or while travelling, anywhere—and (either all or in part) for the duration of one’s life. They include a wide variety of movement-based, strength-training, and stretching routines—combining weight-training, with cardio, flexibility, and balance work. By adding this to a regular routine of aerobic exercise—in activities like brisk walking, jogging, biking, or swimming, a cardio machine workout or an aerobics class—we can experience for ourselves how beneficial all this is, how invigorating and rejuvenating it is, and how good it feels! And how good it is, truly, to love and care for our bodies in such a way for as long as we can!
I am 67, and I value this kind of exercise regimen more than ever for helping to ensure the quality of life I want for myself . . . and for my loved ones, and friends, and all of us—really. It’s simply more important to exercise regularly as we age—to improve and maintain, as best we can, our muscle tone, strength and joint support; our flexibility, coordination and balance; our stamina, endurance and vitality; and the circulation of life-giving nutrients throughout the whole body. . . . Regular, effective exercise is the greatest, lifelong gift we can give to ourselves!
Without giving and receiving this gift—without getting enough exercise—our physical condition and capabilities can decline dramatically, especially after the age of 50, or so. We’re more likely, then, to be “stiffer and achier” more of the time, with more nagging aches and pains; more sluggish, with poorer circulation, and more susceptible to inflammation in the joints, to falls and injuries, cardio-vascular difficulties, adult on-set diabetes, dementia, etc. Weight tends to be put on more easily and quickly, and harder to take off. Posture can also worsen, and the core muscles (in the abdominals and lower back) weaken, leaving us more vulnerable to lower back pain. And, it’s also clear to me, from my years of working with people of all ages, that the problems associated with too little exercise, and an overly sedentary lifestyle, can affect anyone at any age.
From the very beginning, our exercising in the way being emphasized here helps increase our heart muscle’s strength, and its capacity to deliver oxygenated blood to the whole body’s musculature (and to the brain!). By strengthening and toning all our muscles—while moving the body, elevating the heart rate, and breathing more deeply and fully—we improve our overall circulation, and the removal of sources of decay from the body. We can increase (or at least maintain for as long as we can) our metabolism, or the converting of food to energy and the burning of calories; and become “steadier on our feet,” as well.
And, with a regular stretching (or yoga) routine we become even more limber, less stiff and achy, as our flexibility, suppleness and range of motion improve. We loosen up, and greatly reduce the chance of having worse posture, inflammation in the joints, lower back discomfort, and other degenerative, painful conditions. . . . And also, and just as important, our stretching helps relax the nervous system, and increase the openness and elasticity of our arteries, veins and capillaries—which helps to increase the flow of life-giving nutrients to the whole body.
By effectively and regularly exercising in all these ways, then, all of the various functions of the body improve. We have more normalized blood sugar and insulin levels; better skin tone; better bone density, and pulmonary and vascular functioning; more alertness, mental clarity; better moods, better sleep and overall energy, and so forth.
As stated in the August, 2014 edition of the Harvard Health Letter (published by Harvard Medical School): “Modern medical science is now confirming ancient wisdom: Exercise is medicine! The human body is designed so that all physiological functions are optimal when we move. When we exercise, our muscles release natural substances that help relax blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure, reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, increase ‘good’ cholesterol, move glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it is needed, lower insulin levels, and reduce inflammation. All of these functions together help protect us against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.”
Furthermore, by gaining added muscle tone and strength around our joints and our core, we are adding support to those areas, and decreasing the chance of chronic or reoccurring pain (or the need to repair or replace a shoulder, hip, or knee). . . . And, if any of us is currently in need of repairing or replacing any joint, strengthening the muscles around that place is the best possible pre and post-surgery recommendation.
So . . . Before beginning any exercise program, it’s good to get the OK from your doctor if there is any question regarding your capacity to exercise. This is especially true if there are any pre-existing medical or physical conditions or precautions, any recent or upcoming surgeries, any serious illnesses, or medication-related issues that would warrant any restrictions, or any specific “do’s and don’ts.” If there are such concerns in your case, it’s good to get together with a qualified fitness trainer, physical therapist, or rehabilitation specialist to help guide you through whatever exercises would be appropriate for your situation.
The exercises here, as I have designed them, are suitable for anyone who is ready and able to begin a fitness-improving program. And by regularly doing these workouts in their safe and intended ways, we are helping to reverse (or at least slow) any decline in our strength, stamina, flexibility, circulation, and balance. We can “age more gracefully,” as the saying goes, and simply be more fit, feel better and more alive and functionally capable for as long as we can.
If you’re new to working out, or haven’t in quite some time, or have any strict medical or physical precautions, it’s best to start slowly, and proceed accordingly, and over time build up the strength and stamina to do the exercises more vigorously and more often, if you choose. You can follow the routines exactly as they are presented here, or you can vary the sequences however you’d like. You can do any or all of these exercises; and you can do different exercises on different days, for various amounts of time and intensity. . . . Variety is good, actually, in stimulating the various muscle fibers/muscle units most effectively, and keeping our interest and creativity going strong. So, changing the exercises and their sequence periodically, or as often as we want, is suggested and encouraged.
Any of the exercises in the entire program can be mixed and matched with any others. Even the easier routines can be made more invigorating and challenging by doing them at a quicker pace, with increased numbers of repetitions, of sets, and greater amounts of resistance used. And vice versa, the more difficult exercises can be made easier by modifying them, slowing down the pace, reducing the range of motion, or by using lighter weights, with fewer reps and more rest in between exercises.
And, in terms of the frequency of our workouts: The exercises in this program that are purely movement-based, or ones using only the body’s weight (or lighter free weights) for resistance, can be done as often as we’d like—any day and every day, if we want. And this includes, most certainly, our stretching regularly, our doing yoga, or tai chi, a martial art, a sport, or any aerobic exercise (like brisk walking, jogging, biking, or swimming, a cardio machine workout or an aerobics class). . . . However, when it comes to the exercises using much more resistance in the form of heavier free weights, dumbbells, barbells, exercise bands, and such—these are best done with at least a day of rest and recovery in between.
So . . .
One workout possibility might be: 4-5 days a week of 30-60 minutes of movement-based and body weight exercise (including stretching, or a yoga class; and any of the above activities, aerobic or otherwise, which can be done daily)—with 2-3 of those days including exercises that incorporate more added weight, or resistance—specifically designed to increase the strength, tone and density of our muscles, connective tissue and bones. And again, with all of these exercise options, there should be at least a day of rest and recovery in between workout sections where much more added weight, or resistance, is used.
A second workout option might be: 3-4 days a week of 30-60 minutes of movement-based, body weight and stretching exercise (or a yoga class); with at least 2 of those days incorporating added weight exercises. And this kind of routine would best include an additional 2-3 days of aerobic exercise—in the form of activities like brisk walking, or jogging, biking, or swimming, a cardio machine workout or an aerobics class.
And a third option might be: 2-3 days a week of 30-60 minutes of movement-based, body weight, added weight and stretching exercise (or a yoga class); with at least 3 additional days of aerobic exercise—in the form of activities like brisk walking, or jogging, biking, or swimming, a cardio machine workout or an aerobics class.
All kinds of variations are possible! “Different strokes for different folks,” and all that. And some people who are particularly drawn to aerobic exercise could be doing that every day (or nearly so), in addition to any of the other workout options in the “Exercises for Life” program. The important thing is that we do the amount and frequency of any exercise regimen that suits us, that does us the most good—that challenges us, works us, interests us—and that can actually be fun, and definitely rejuvenating—if done with enough rest in between exercises to complete a good workout, and enough rest and recovery between workout sessions, as well. And again, if you need the help of a qualified fitness trainer, yoga teacher, physical therapist, or rehabilitation specialist to help you with any or all of this, I highly suggest seeking out such help.
May any or all of this, then, help us in exercising in whatever ways we will; so that we may feel for ourselves the benefits that good, regular exercise brings! This is the kind of exercise that strengthens our muscles, heart and bones—rejuvenates our cells; helps us get leaner if we need to; and improves the body’s circulation, and even our mental and emotional clarity and inner sense of relaxation . . . the kind of exercise that improves our stamina and endurance; our balance and flexibility; energy and vitality; and gives us the best chance at living a long, healthy life! . . . So, all the best to all of you in going for it!