When we start a new job, we often go through a training program, in which we learn the essential skills for the challenges ahead. New military recruits go to base training. But what about recent retirees? How do they get prepared for the next season of life?
The answer is, sadly, that there isn’t much formal training! Most new retirees might think, “How could I possibly need training when I’m just going to have fun and do what I’ve always wanted?”
Yet after the honeymoon stage of the first couple of years, retirees typically start looking for ways to create structure, meaning, and purpose in their days.
Resources like Sixty and Me can help at this stage, because they cover a wide variety of topics, such as finances, relationships, fitness, purpose, and mindset.
My specialties are posture, alignment, and fitness, and here’s my simple fitness prescription that covers all the bases! Keep reading for BASE Training for Boomers…
B Is for Balance
Balance is priority #1! According to the United States Center for Disease Control, every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. The problem is that we often don’t think about balance until we notice it’s not as good as it used to be.
We may notice that we are less steady on uneven ground or using stairs. I encourage all of my clients, as early as their 40s, to start making balance an integral part of their fitness routines. Even if you are a new retiree, balance is your job!
There are many factors in balance, including our vision and the vestibular system in our ears. Once we are assured those systems are working well, we must turn our attention to the proprioceptive system.
Proprioception is our ability to sense where we are in space, with the help of the neurons in our joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Here’s my gripe with most senior fitness programs. They don’t challenge our proprioceptors in the two most important ways:
- with dynamic three-dimensional movements that mimic real life, and
- at our training threshold.
In other words, the balance exercises don’t look like what’s going to keep you from falling, and they are not performed in a way that really pushes you to get stronger.
A Is for Alignment
Alignment awareness is a common denominator among those who stay relatively pain-free as they age. They may have practiced a modality that encouraged mind-body awareness of body position and posture, such as yoga, stretching, tai chi, or Pilates.
I’m not saying that every person needs to do those modalities, and they are certainly not a guarantee against injuries. That said, these modalities increase our body awareness, and awareness is the first step to address imbalances that can cause pain.
After doing hundreds of posture assessments, I’ve learned that we are all asymmetrical. Each of us has some quirk, such as one foot that pronates more, or a slight leg length difference, or more muscular development in our dominant arm and shoulder.
Mindful alignment and posture practices help us course in correct stance throughout the day to create less wear and tear on our joints and less pain. This helps us stay more active for the long haul.
S Is for Strength
We know we need to do strength training for our muscle mass and bone density. It helps us look good, feel good, and be strong on the inside. It also increases metabolism, which helps us maintain a healthy weight.
There are three mistakes most boomer women make about strength training:
- They don’t do it.
- They don’t lift enough weight, and
- They aren’t doing functional movements that challenge them in three dimensions.
Many are afraid of getting hurt. And many can just get in a rut doing the same things they’ve always done, and not push themselves further. (I can relate, and I do not judge you for this.)
Obviously, you need to work within your body’s capabilities. That said, as a beginner, do 10–15 reps of each strength training exercise. When you can easily do 15 reps twice, then increase your weight until you can only do 8–10 reps.
E Is for Energy
Without energy, how will we do the exercise, mental fitness, relationship building, and community involvement that keeps us engaged and fulfilled? Many of my boomer clients, and younger ones too, tell me that they want to feel more energized.
There are universal and personal sources of energy. The universal sources of energy are the physical ones that all humans require: quality sleep, movement, and food. The personal ones are unique for each person and center around what brings them energy, joy, and peace.
For many of my clients, being in nature ranks very high for experiences that give them energy. We also have to say no to the things and people that drain our energy and cause stress.
Stress management and energy management are like sweeping the floor. It’s easier if you don’t bring in the dirt on your shoes in the first place!
Most of my clients come to me for help with alignment, balance, and strength, but I always address sleep, diet, and stress management too. These are the energy sources that enable us to do the movement and exercise.
BASE training for boomers is simple, but it’s not necessarily easy to implement all of these at once. Start where you feel the most motivation. All ships rise in a high tide, so when we improve one area, we improve in all areas of life!
If you’d like personalized and professional help for your BASE Training, please visit Joan’s website and contact her for a complimentary consultation.
What are you already doing for BASE training? What’s your next priority? Which of these four majors gives you the most difficulty to begin or master? Please share with our community.