As we age, our mission is to use sound scientific evidence to build effective counter strategies, not only to survive, but to thrive.
Theo Thurston, 69, began training with weights when he was 48, and is committed to helping others learn about resistance training, intensity levels, and quality of life maintenance.
For those looking at the new year as an opportunity for a new lifestyle, Theo recommends a good first step is to find a personal trainer. “It is important to research your trainer and don’t consider the trainer’s age but how much he or she knows about training people your age. Your trainer should also be sure to build in a 2-3 week build-up period, that is age appropriate, to avoid injury.”
As part of the slow start, walking is an excellent way to go from sedentary to building cardio endurance. He adds, “If you haven’t exercised for a long time, or perhaps your lungs are scarred from COVID, you must start very slowly and get your lungs full of air. Brisk or hill walking will help, and it is a good idea to fill our lungs deeply any time, even when not exercising.”
While some may be tempted to recover from holiday eating by extreme dieting, Theo says, “God gave us marvelous variety in our food and it is important to maintain balance.
“Don’t beat yourself up and eat nothing but salad. Starving our bodies means losing muscle mass, which lowers metabolism and sabotages your efforts. Protein gets more important as we age so have it at every meal; lean meat, cottage cheese, plant or whey powders, or Greek yogurt will help build and maintain muscle mass.”
Carbs are essential to good health and energy, but only as much as the body needs for movement. Theo says a little bread is acceptable but try to incorporate sweet or white potatoes, oatmeal, and brown or white rice where possible.
For best results, and a good rule of thumb, is to begin with some form of light resistance training. Theo says, “Most people think the goal is use heavier weights. I train people to use light weights and slow the pace of their reps. What really builds muscle is time under tension. When you lift and lower a weight slowly, your body is working longer and not harder. It is also kinder to your joints and ligaments.”
“Get the trainer” is his best advice. “Getting fit sounds great but if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.” Theo says trainers require exercise appointments to hold people accountable to their goals. If a trainer is not in the budget, making a personal schedule to set aside the time in the day may help maintain accountability for those exercising on their own.
“More than anything,” he adds, “make sure your plan is sustainable. If you know you will get tired of swimming in a few weeks, don’t build that into your plan. This is a lifestyle change that, ideally, you will enjoy and continue. If you want quality of life, you need muscles, and if you want muscles, you have to work out.”