Fitness Changes: By Age

Fitness Changes: By Age

Our bodies manage a lot. They bear a lifetime of stress, fall into and recover from illness, battle chronic ailments, take bruises, breaks, falls, and burns, and power through long workdays on 2 hours of sleep. Our bodies take it all, and eventually, our system tells us it’s time to take it easy.  

When does the body really start to experience physical limitations, and how does our age affect our fitness endeavors? Let’s find out and talk about some ways to keep your body going strong. 

In Your 30’s

By age 30, and despite the fact that we just barely made it out of our 20’s, many of us get a head start on the “I’m getting old” complaints. Perhaps jokingly and perhaps not. According to a study on aerobic capacity in aging adults, fitness levels begin to decline 3% to 6% every decade starting around age 20.1 So, by age 30, you may technically have experienced a mild age-related change in your physical fitness, but not enough to make a noticeable difference.  

However, age is not the only factor. Our reduced physical fitness often has to do with changes to our lifestyle habits or diseases.2 As we age, we encounter life changes and assume responsibilities we never had, which can potentially lead to a lot more sedentary time. Naturally, the less active you are, the more difficult many physical activities will feel.  

That being said, Tip #1 is to take a moment to recognize any decrease in physical activity and to commit to reintroducing some of it into your life.  

From Age 40 to 69

Here, we embark on that part of our lifetime we know as “middle age.” Commonly associated with mid-life crises, hair loss, and a slowing metabolism, it’s not typically a very welcome stage. Allow us to assuage your fears.  

This study examined the performance of marathon runners ranging from the ages of 20 to 79. The results show that “no significant age-related decline in performance appears before age 55.”2 This is about halfway through your period of middle age.  

Once you hit 55, you don’t suddenly begin to struggle. The same study reveals that only a moderate decline is observable in their runners after this age. In fact, “25% of the 65- to 69-year-old runners were faster than 50% of the 20- to 54-year-old runners.”2 Even more impressive is the fact that the same percentage of 65- to 69-year-old runners began marathon training within the previous 5 years.2 This should prove that their success was not a result of a lifetime of conditioning. Despite starting their training around age 60 or later, their bodies were capable of outperforming younger runners.  

Tip #2: It’s never too late to start, so start! Need more incentive? Another study found that even untrained individuals, who had never taken up sports until after reaching the age of 50, “were able to halve their mortality risk compared with their non-active peers.”2 

Age 70 and Up

Now we enter older adulthood where our aerobic capacity declines more quickly. Most older adults will see a decline of about 20% every 10 years starting around age 70.1 Fear not, however. Even if your maximal oxygen uptake is reduced, you are still capable of improving your aerobic fitness and of improving your muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.  

For example, this study on balance training in older adults found that regular balance and strength training was capable of restoring performance to a level like that of someone 3 to 10 years younger.3  

Not to mention, the power of exercise remains highly beneficial for the body and is often prescribed to older adults. In fact, this study found that “the life expectancy of active seniors was 3.8 years longer than that of their non-active peers.2 

Tip #3: Don’t allow yourself to believe that your age means you cannot be physically active. Many of our older members are living proof that age is just a number. Check out #3 of our Workout Excuses article to see exactly what we mean. Additionally, many workouts are tailored specifically to older adults who need a safe and gradual starting point. A doctor can help you make the right activity choices if you’re looking to take up exercise but have felt unable to do so. 

For more articles like this one, click to subscribe to our newsletter and receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

Sources

  1. Fleg, Jerome L., et al. “Accelerated Longitudinal Decline of Aerobic Capacity in Healthy Older Adults.” Circulation, 25 July 2005, https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.105.545459 
  2. Leyk, Dieter, et al. “Physical Performance in Middle Age and Old Age: Good News for Our Sedentary and Aging Society.” Deutsches Arzteblatt International, Deutscher Arzte Verlag, Nov. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2999945/. 
  3. Wolfson, Leslie, et al. “Balance and Strength Training in Older Adults: Intervention Gains and Tai Chi Maintenance – Wolfson – 1996 – Journal of the American Geriatrics Society – Wiley Online Library.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 27 Apr. 2015, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1532-5415.1996.tb01433.x 
Is Keto for Everyone?

Is Keto for Everyone?

Question:

Is the Keto diet recommended for everyone?

-Kim

Answer:

NO. A ketogenic diet is one in which carbohydrates are severely restricted (nearly eliminated), fat consumption is high and protein intake is moderate-low. The body’s process of converting its metabolism to fat-burning ketosis is a survival mechanism when carbohydrate supply is inadequate and dietary fat is plenty. [It shouldn’t be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis which also produces ketones, but with extremely high blood sugar.] Despite its short-term effectiveness for weight loss, I rarely recommend a Keto diet. Looking at all the available evidence, my professional opinion is that such an extreme approach is in opposition to a sustainable eating style that supports the whole body across one’s entire lifetime.

Following a ketogenic diet can cause long-term adverse effects such as hepatic steatosis, hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies1. Since the ketogenic diet is very high in fat, those with gallbladder, kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease or problems with delayed gastric emptying should not follow it. Just as they shouldn’t be consuming a high sugar/refined carb diet, pregnant or nursing women also should not be on a keto diet. It may be ideal for certain populations, though. Healthcare practitioners may prescribe a classic or modified ketogenic diet for patients with epilepsy2. It may be prescribed for morbidly obese patients in the weeks leading up to bariatric surgery3 and for some patients with Type 2 Diabetes4.  

References: 

  1. Masood W, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2019 Mar 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/ Accessed 12.26.2019 
  2. Roehl K, Sewak S. Practice Paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Classic and Modified Ketogenic Diets for Treatment of Epilepsy. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017; 117:1279-1292. 
  3. Leonetti F, Campanile FC, Coccia F,et al. Very Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet Before Bariatric Surgery: Prospective Evaluation of a Sequential Diet. Obesity Surgery. 25, 64–71 (2015) doi:10.1007/s11695-014-1348-1 
  4. Azar ST, Beydoun HM, Albadri MR. Benefits of Ketogenic Diet For Management of Type Two Diabetes: A Review. Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders. 2016; 2:2. doi: 10.21767/2471-8203.100022 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Member Spotlight: The Way to Wellness

Member Spotlight: The Way to Wellness

Be kind and gentle with yourself. In working out, praise yourself for what you were able to do.”

Ann B.

LA Fitness Member

Ann is an LA Fitness member who tells us she has always been on the heavy side. Partly after the emergence of some health problems, Ann began her movement towards weight loss.  

In the past 25 years, Ann has had 6 back surgeries, and again finds herself with 2 bulging discs. She joined the gym to build up strength in her body, especially her legs, hips, and arms. 2 mini strokes also left Ann with balance and endurance problems, yet this past fall she has already worked her way to losing 50 pounds! Her goal is to lose at least another 40 to 50 pounds. 

Read on to learn Ann’s story and to see how she determined that it was time to make a change. 


 

Emergency Surgery

In August of 2019, Ann underwent emergency surgery for a perforated bowel. While in the hospital for recovery, she rapidly lost 10 pounds. Upon returning home, her reduced appetite prompted even more weight loss: another 10 pounds.  

Seeing that she had lost 20 pounds, what was at first a scary situation became an opportunity for change. Now feeling better from her ordeal, Ann decided she would stick firmly to a 1200 calorie diet to start losing weight healthily. “I wasn’t exercising very much, so the weight was coming off slowly,” she shares. 

Despite her minimal exercise, the changes in her diet were helping. However, Ann still wanted to add activity to her life. 

I used to walk around the block everyday which equaled a mile with my walker. I can’t do that right now, so I was looking into finding a gym. I tried one I knew many people went to, but it was always too crowded, and I had to wait for machines. That’s not my cup of tea.  

I decided to look into LA Fitness. It is close to my home and things move right along. LA Fitness seemed to have what we needed. So, my husband and I became official members.” 

Finding Her Flow

“I feel better when I work out,” Ann says. The days she doesn’t, she feels like she’s just dragging through her day. Part of her transition to an active lifestyle, however, involved the need to find what worked for her body. If you recall, she has had her fair share of back pain and surgeries.  

“One day I over did it with some heavier weights and I had a painful back for four days. I need to find my comfort zone and stay there. I see others pushing themselves, and even though I want to, I know I can’t.” 

Ann’s experience with the heavier weights reminds us that even if we’re eager to make improvements, we can only do so by monitoring our progress with a critical eye. It’s important to ask yourself if your form is still good and if you are compromising your safety by trying to do too much before your body is ready. 

Ann’s Advice to You

We asked Ann, if she could give other gym-goers a piece of advice, what would it be? Her response was perfect: “Take care of yourself because no one else is going to. We are so busy taking care of others, we forget about ourselves. Be kind and gentle with yourself. In working out, praise yourself for what you were able to do.” 

We love this advice because not only do we agree on the importance of remembering to care for yourself, we also don’t think you have to keep up with everyone else in the gym. Your aim should simply be to challenge yourself to do better than you did in the past.  
 
Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

For grammatical correctness, length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

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How to Transition from Machines to Free Weights

How to Transition from Machines to Free Weights

Machines vs Free Weights 

Machines

Machines and free weights each have their advantages. Machines are great for people who need a bit more guidance. They support your body, usually have a seat and backrest, and they guide your movement which helps you learn how a specific exercise is supposed to feel. They’re great for people who are just starting out and need the direction a machine can provide.  

Both a benefit and a drawback of machines is that, often, they will isolate a single muscle. This can be great if you’re looking for a more targeted workout, but you’ll have to do a lot more exercises on a bunch of different machines to work more than one muscle group. The strength you gain from machines is also not very functional, but this may not be a concern if your focus is on aesthetics. 

Free Weights

Free weights are great for people who are looking to exercise multiple muscle groups at once. Because different muscles come into play to stabilize the weight as you move it, you get a more complete workout from one exercise. A drawback is that you are sometimes limited by what you can lift off the rack or by your grip strength. Your legs may be ready to squat more weight, for example, but your arms may not be ready to carry those couple extra pounds.  

The strength you gain from free weights is highly functional because your muscles are allowed to move naturally. You have the benefit of engaging parts of a muscle you normally wouldn’t engage on a machine, even though you’re doing a similar exercise. 

If you’re looking to transition from machines to free weights, we’re about to tell you how. There are some important precautions and considerations that can help make the transition easier and safer. 

Free Weights Don’t Weigh the Same

This sounds a bit ridiculous. How is squatting 250-pounds on a Smith machine (assisted squat machine) not the same as squatting a 250-pound barbell? Well, the answer is in the mechanics of the machine. Machines guide your muscles through a very linear motion. Your body doesn’t have to work to stabilize the weight (to keep it from tipping more one way than the other, etc.). Because of that, you don’t need to put as much effort into moving the weight that’s connected to a machine. 

>> When you transition from machines to free weights, you need to start significantly lighter and build your way up to find your working weight.  

Master Your Form First

The thing about machines is they stick you into a certain form. It’s great if you’ve never done a particular exercise and you need to know what it should look and feel like. However, once you step away from the machine, it’s all different. Your body will want to move differently to compensate for the position of your hands and feet and where the dumbbells or barbell happen to be resting. You may also notice that you have one arm or leg that is stronger than the other and that it is doing more of the work. This can also set the weight into a different balance that your stabilizing muscles will have to make up for. 

>> When you decide to take an exercise off the machine and onto the floor, you may notice weaknesses you hadn’t noticed before. Master your form first and then gradually incorporate weights. 

Don’t Push Your Muscles to Failure

It was easier to do this with machines because the equipment was relieving you of the weight once you had done your last rep. With free weights, pushing until your muscles can do no more can be dangerous, especially if your form is compromised. It’s important to leave your body a little breathing room and to have a spotter when you plan to challenge yourself in the weight room.  

>> Pushing your muscles to failure when using free weights can be dangerous. Always give yourself enough energy to complete your last rep with perfect form. 

For more workout tips, read up on what happens when you exercise on an empty stomach. Or, find out what you should know before you work out in cold weather. To stay up to date with our content, click to subscribe to our newsletter and receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

Body Composition and How to Track it

Body Composition and How to Track it

Have you ever compared your body to your best friend’s body? You may wonder how your best friend is tall and thin and you are short and round, but you weigh the exact same. How can that be? How can two people, same gender, look completely different but weigh the same? That’s because humans all have different body compositions.  

What is Body Composition?

It’s best described as what bodies are made of. Human bodies are made up of varying percentages of water, fat, bone and muscle. Don’t let body composition be confused with body mass index (BMI). Body mass index is a measurement of weight-for-height.   

When you step on a scale, the number tells you how much you weigh, but it doesn’t tell you what your body is made up of. Body composition refers to everything in your body and how much you have of each component. For example, a person’s body could be composed of 36% muscle, 12% essential fat, 15% non-essential fat, 12% bone and 25% other (organs, etc.) Let’s take this breakdown and work our way up to make it easier to understand, taking the five example percentages and putting them into two groups; fat mass and fat-free mass1 

>> Fat mass refers to fat tissue in your body and fat-free mass includes everything else (like muscle, bone, fluid and organs) 

What the Scale Really Tells You

Stepping on the scale will show you one number, your weight. What you don’t see are the other numbers in your body and how they affect your body composition.  

For example, if you start an exercise program you may gain one pound of muscle and lose one pound of fat. Since your fat mass decreased and your fat-free mass increased at the same time, your body weight won’t change. See how frustrating this can be for someone who thinks they are putting in a lot of effort at the gym and eating healthy but not seeing the weight change on the scale? This is why the scale is misleading and that’s why knowing your body composition is much more useful than knowing your body weight.

How to Measure Body Composition

Track with a Tape Measure

So, what can you use to measure your body composition? The first way would be to track and measure different body parts2. Purchase a flexible tape measure and track the circumference of your waist, hips, arms, legs and chest.

If you track your measurements for a period of six months, for example, and your waist circumference decreases, it’s a sign that you are probably losing belly fat. Here’s another example: if your exercise program involves weights and your arm circumference is increasing, it’s a sign that you are probably gaining muscle in your arms. The second way to track your body composition would be to take pictures.  

Track with Images

Progress pictures are a very popular way to physically see the changes in your body over time. These pictures are typically known as ‘transformation pictures’ and can be very helpful when looking at your body composition. We often do not notice changes in our body from day to day, but we do notice changes in our body when looking at progress pictures.

There are devices that measure body composition, like a bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). BIA sends small electrical currents through your body to see how much the body resists the current. This information is used to predict your body fat percentage3 but these devices are not always accurate.  

If you’re interested in knowing your body fat mass percentage, have an LA Fitness ProResults® Trainer help you. A ProResults® trainer can help you with basic principles of physical activity and nutrition to help you improve your body composition.  

A Quick Recap

It’s nothing new; exercise and good nutrition are critical for improving body composition. Exercise and weight training help with fat loss and increased muscle mass. Stepping on the scale will only tell you how much you weigh but there are other factors that need to be considered, like age and genetics. Before you start an exercise and nutrition program, please consult your doctor.  

What’s the bottom line? We are all different. No two people are the same, therefore, we all lose and gain (fat, muscle or both) differently. Don’t just step on the scale. The best ways to track body composition is by measuring the circumference of different body parts and taking progress pictures. Grab a notebook and write down your measurements and take your pictures at regular intervals. Give yourself patience and time to see changes.  

If you would like to learn more about Body Mass Index (BMI) and the difference between BMI and Body Composition, you can read about it here 

Sources

  1. PubMed Central. National Institutes of Health. Application of standards and models in body composition analysis. November 2015 
  2. PubMed Central. National Institutes of Health. Reference values for body composition and anthropometric measurements in athletes. May 2014
  3. PubMed Central. National Institutes of Health. Bioelectrical impedance analysis–part I: review of principles and methods. October 2004 

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