Age is just a number and women can choose to stay fit and healthy longer
Age should never be a barrier to physical fitness. Yet many adults aged 65 and over spend an average of 10 or more per day sitting or lying down and this makes them the most sedentary age group, according to the UK's NHS health system.
Therefore, as women age, it is more important than ever to enjoy an active lifestyle through healthy eating, a positive mindset, and regular exercise. An active lifestyle can boost energy, reduce weight and pain, help maintain independence, better mental one's health, as well as strengthen the heart, lungs, and muscles. People who are active also have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression, and dementia.
Yet, many older women may be nervous about starting or maintaining an active lifestyle. Health problems, aches and pains, frailty, weakness, and the fear of breakages or falling can contribute to a hesitancy that can sadly lead to an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.
It can all start now
The good news is that it is never too late to make positive good lifestyle changes. Remember the old saying: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" or the familiar proverb: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week - ideally exercising every day, preferably in bouts of 10 minutes of activity or more. One way of achieving 150 minutes of activity is to do 30 of minutes exercise on at least 5 days a week.
Women of all ages are turning to CrossFit
Worldwide, CrossFit is proving to be a useful way for women to return to exercise in a safe, supported, and effective way. Additionally a supportive and diverse community can be found in CrossFit boxes (that's what they call their gym) worldwide.
Let's hear from some tenacious women about how their health - and their lives in general - have improved through regular exercise.
Perhaps their stories will be an inspiration to us all.
Lucie: Age is but a number
Lucie Hobart is in her 60's and says she has no idea what age means anymore. “I started CrossFit when I was 52, but here I am … years later, and I know I am the healthiest today that I have ever been in my entire life, which really blows my mind.”
Lucie says her perspective on aging has certainly changed since she started CrossFit and she has achieved exercises she never thought possible - such as getting her first strict pull-up.
“That has to be, so far, probably the biggest milestone in CrossFit,” she says. “To be able to pull up my own body weight.”
When started she found running 200 metres hard as an ex-smoker, but she worked on gradual incremental increases and she quickly began to see the positive difference it made to her health and fitness.
How we exercise, can be the measure of a good life - and out life is up to us to make it better and meaningful.
Sheila: Keeping going and staying younger
"A lot of the younger people at work say, 'You're my hero' and I say 'Really!'" laughs Sheila, a woman almost in her 80's and arguably more active than most people.
"Sheila is who you want to be when you grow up," says Dave Tillman, Sheila’s coach and owner of CrossFit Cedar Park in Cedar Park, Texas.
If she doesn’t make it into the gym, Dave says, it’s probably because she power-washed her driveway. Age has no limit and Sheila does all the yard work on her property, mowing, taking care of weeds, cleaning a pond and reservoir system that collects her water. Sheila claims it is most likely her love of being outdoors that has kept her active.
“I think that's what happens as [people] get older, even my age, they’re inside, and they’re not among people,” explains Sheila.
Sheila points out she wasn’t far from that path herself at one time. Diagnosed with a degenerated disc at a young age, she suffered from chronic back pain for almost 60 years. It was during a personal training visit that she took her first step toward becoming pain free. While on the table, she looked out the window across the street and saw a CrossFit gym. “I think when I grow up, I want to go over there,” she joked.
Though Sheila was nervous when she started her first CrossFit session, especially after realizing she was the oldest person there, colleagues quickly put her at ease. They acknowledged her bone density and mobility issues, starting her with a lighter equipment to ensure her movements were safe and correct before building up in weight. Soon Sheila commented that this was the first time in her life that she did not have back pain.
Sheila genuinely believes that CrossFit is especially useful for older people because there is a supportive coach who can help with ensuring good form and safe movements.
Sheila has a message for other women considering CrossFit but are afraid to commence due to pain, lack of confidence, or further limitations: “I’m not just this person who has always been healthy and never had any issues...I came from the same things that other people have that might cause you to just stop, but instead I said, ‘I’ve gotta keep going.’...I’m looking pretty good, I’m feeling good, and I’m staying younger,” says Sheila.
Jojo and Rene: Feeling better, living better
Jojo Markey, in her mid-80's, made an active decision to change her health for the better. "My blood pressure...was out of control. Sometimes it would go up to 190...it got up really high like over 90 or 100," she explains.
Now, with the support of CrossFit, her blood pressure has improved: "It has dropped a lot when I work out. It's wonderful."
Her friend, Rene Verel, in her early 80's also has not let age get in the way of her wellbeing. "You get to a point where you think, 'That's it. That's what I can do. This is good enough.' Then you start something like CrossFit and you say, 'You know what? There's more.'"
Through her commitment to a CrossFit lifestyle, Rene has been running - and getting better and improving her fitness every day. "I could not believe my rate, the difference in my time after about four or five months...It just happened," says Rene. "From the 5K run, I think my time actually went down five or six minutes."
A healthy life regardless of age and fitness level
CrossFit is a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition - and can help women accomplish their fitness goals from improved health to weight loss, to better performance overall.
The program works for everyone, even those who are starting out - with workouts that can modified to each person's age and fitness level.
Preparing women for exciting challenges
Developed to enhance competency at all physical tasks, CrossFit improves general physical preparedness through optimizing physical competence in 10 fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance; stamina; strength; flexibility; power; speed; coordination; agility; balance; and accuracy.
People who do CrossFit are prepared for all challenges - whether in the gym, on a playing field, or as part of their daily life.
Connecting with a supportive community worldwide
CrossFit is also a community initiative. It is a lifestyle and a mindset.
With many thousands of affiliates around the world, women are encouraging and motivating each other in every class as they work toward their goals.
Live a good life. Stay healthy!