Here’s the question I always ask, “How do you want to age?”
Those who know me from my social media fitness posts might have heard me say this at the end of a post, “No huffing and puffing to the finish line”.
I ask again, “How do you want to age? Do you want to grow old or do you want to grow old gracefully?”
Someone once said to me, “Kehinde, you can’t live forever”, totally missing the reason why we exercise. We don’t excercise to live forever, we exercise to LIVE NOW. To live a full and active life now and in the future. We exercise to really feel ALIVE.
I’ll tell you my story and I hope it will encourage you to either start strength training or be more consistent with your training.
I started feeling a niggle in my left knee in my early 20’s way back in the early 90’s. A quick visit to the doctor suggested it might have something to do with cartilage. I found that puzzling because at the time, (shortly after graduation from University) I wasn’t doing any structured physical activity that could cause wear and tear on my joints. I didn’t bother to investigate further because I wasn’t feeling any pain.
Fast forward several years later, about 14 years ago, ( I’m now at the age where we start to experience muscle mass decline) I started to feel some pressure (like a dull ache) in my left knee after spinning. I mentioned it to the class instructor who suggested I build up the muscles around my knee (using the Leg Press) to support the joint and reduce the pain.
And that’s how my strength training journey started.
Today, strength training is an absolute must for me, something I intend to do for the rest of my life so help me God! The benefits of exercising are too many for me to ‘allow’ my knee to slow me down. Strength training has helped tremendously with my mobility and maintaining my physical strength. Strength training gives me a nice toned physique (keeps fat off my body – by building lean muscle), corrects my posture, keeps my stress levels down ( this is huge!), and boosts my energy levels.
As I type this blog, I have no pain, no feeling whatsoever in the knee. Yeah there are times when, if I over do it like running faster than I should, jumping up and down forgetting to land softly or even sometimes when I rush my strength exercises not giving myself enough time to recover, it might flare up but in general it’s been fine as long as I continue to do the exercises that help maintain the strength of the stabiliser muscles around that joint.
I’ve had to learn how to be patient (pain can be frustrating), consistent and not overdo (yes I’ve over done it many many times and suffered afterwards) my exercises to preserve my knee so that my mobility is not impaired as I grow older. Inactivity is simply is not an option for me, so strength train I must. I intend to bounce to my finish line. 😂😂
Here are some facts about the ageing process and why strength training is vital in middle age:
- After the age of 30, we start to lose muscle mass, strength and bone density, which leads to issues with mobility. Everyone experiences age related decline in muscle function, however, inactive people experience muscle mass loss at a faster rate. When we start to lose muscle function, we become weaker, slower, less flexible, our muscles waste away (muscle Atrophy), we become susceptible to degenerative deceases like Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis, we start to have back problems, and postural issues.
- Weight creeps up and puts pressure on our joints (causing pain) if we don’t exercise. Our joints become weaker and weaker. Losing fat and building the stabiliser muscles around the joints takes pressure off the joints.
- The body retains fat, looses muscle mass and shape if lifestyle is sedentary. Strength training increases fat loss because it burns a lot of calories. Energy is required to repair and build muscle so you are also burning at rest. Strength training speeds up your metabolism because the more muscle you have the faster your metabolic response to food. You will lose more fat (up to 40% more) if your exercise program is a combined strength and cardio program.
The big gain for me is how it transforms the body. Vanity upon on vanity! Who doesn’t like to look good? 😉 It tones and firms the body and gives me a nice shape.
Note: I’m not talking about body building. Many people confuse the two. Strength training and body building are not the same thing. Body building is The Hulk, strength training is Wonder Woman. Ok maybe the Hulk is an exaggeration, I’m sure you know what I’m trying to say.
You can strength train anywhere you are, it doesn’t have to be in the gym. The other great thing is, you will begin to see results with just 20mins a day. In future blog posts, I’ll talk about the exercises I’ve done ( I feel as if I’ve tried it all) and what I currently do to maintain my shape and strength.
Leave comments below, share your experiences or let me know that you came by.