I've found that as I get older, making sure I take good care of my body and get enough rest is very important. I used to be able to do a hard workout and get up the next day and do it all over again. I never used to stretch after workouts (shame on me), but I've had some injuries in the recent past that reinforce the need to be kind to my body and give it what it needs. "I'm not a kid anymore," is the excuse I've always made, assuming that as I age, gains in fitness won't come as easily and I'll have to take even better care of myself. But according to some new research, part of my logic might be a little faulty.
A well-rounded fitness routine is important for any healthy individual, regardless of age. It's easy to assume that as we get older, becoming fitter gets more difficult. But a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research came to a different conclusion. The study compared fitness gains of women in their 20s with women in their 60s. Participants completed a 13-week exercise program consisting of cardio, whole-body strength training and stretching. Each person's fitness level was assessed before the program began, and the intensity was increased incrementally as each person adapted to the current workout.
There was no difference in the intensity progression of the strength workouts between the two groups, and the intensity of cardio workouts actually progressed more quickly in the group of older adults. No significant injuries or pain were reported in either group, which lead researchers to conclude that healthy older women can increase the intensity of their exercise routines in the same way as younger women.
This isn't to say that every woman 60 and older should jump right off of the couch into an intense exercise routine. It's important to know where you're starting from, so that you can develop a plan to gain strength and improve fitness in a way that's safe. What You Need To Know About Fitness After 60 gives you a good starting point.
What do you think? Are you surprised by the results of this study? Why or why not?
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