The Wisdom of Frank
I met my friend Frank when I was 21 years old and working out at a local gym. Frank was sixty-eight years old and in great condition. He had been a professional boxer, army fitness instructor, and then a physical education teacher. Frank was an incredibly well read student of fitness and human performance. He was stronger, more agile, and fitter than most people in their twenties. Success leaves footprints, so I was eager to learn from a master.
Frank’s biggest lesson was that no matter how busy, over worked, and over scheduled you were, there was no excuse not to perform some type of exercise. The crucial component of lifelong fitness is consistency. You can slow down but never stop. Do something, even if it is only ten minutes–every day. As Frank traveled through his eighties, he performed twenty minute sessions of mobility work and some calisthenics on a daily basis.
A recent *article by Gretchen Reynolds in the New York Times reinforces this lesson. Older athletes that maintain the lifelong fitness habit have remarkable fitness assessment scores. Many have posted VO2 max tests that make researchers rethink the present expectations for testing standards.
*Age Like a Former Athlete, Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, August 23, 2107.
View the NY Times Article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/23/well/move/age-like-a-former-athlete.html?_r=0
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Fitness Success Secrets
WSJ and My Fitness Success Suggestions
A member at the gym brought in this *article from the May 20, 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal. The article had some good tips on exercise compliance but fell short in other areas. Take the time to read my suggestions. These habits have been time tested, proven winners in multiple studies on real world people who were successful in making fitness a lifelong habit.
Get Some Help.
Numerous studies have shown that individuals that seek the assistance of a personal trainer or fitness coach are more successful in long term exercises compliance. The guidance from a fitness expert improves motivation, goal attainment and is more time efficient. Scientific understanding of fitness and the best training practices have changed dramatically in the last fifteen years, and your knowledge is probably behind the times. A good coach will temper your “beginner’s enthusiasm” and make it less likely you will over train and/or injure yourself. A professional helps you reach goals despite physical limitations or prior fitness challenges.
Personal Performance Evaluations.
In school, you have tests to see if you are gaining knowledge and ready to advance in a specific subject. The same should be true of your training program. The minimal requirement is a Functional Movement Screen. This simple test can prevent 90% of the fitness related injuries we see in the physical therapy clinic. Keep a record of relevant performance evaluations—a good trainer can help you with this. Your initial successes with exercise will come in the form of better strength, mobility, and work capacity. An ongoing record of “fitness victories” strongly reinforces the exercise habit.
Have Reasonable Goals.
The infomercials for fitness products promise big changes in extremely short periods of time. Television shows document massive fat loss in a single month. The healthiest changes in body composition occur slowly and steadily. Make those body composition goals, but also make performance goals such as being able to perform a pullup, twenty lunges, or a full pain free squat. I can think of no better goals than being able to eliminate blood pressure medication, normalize blood sugar levels, or decrease the use of anti-inflammatory medications.
Place Your Exercise Session At the Beginning Of the Day.
The University of Michigan department of psychology found that individuals that are successful with long-term exercise compliance train in the morning before other aspects of life have a chance to interfere. Consistency is King–an exercise plan will never work if you are not able to maintain a schedule. The most consistent attendance happens when gym members train in the mornings.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
*Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2017, Rachel Bachman, Five Secrets for Steadier Workouts