Active Aging Fitness is About How Well You Move
It’s no secret that our population, which I and many of you are part of, is getting older while staying highly active. It’s called the active aging fitness population and many of us are a member of it. This is AWESOME but the fact of the matter is Mother Nature is still going to have her say on how your body is going to change. So if your exercise program does not reflect and address those changes, problems are going to occur.
Mother Nature is still going to have her say on how your body is going to change.
Knowing some of the physical changes that occur as we age, made me begin to look at why and how band training can dramatically influence, slow down or maybe even postpone some of these changes. Hopefully, after reviewing some of these changes with you, it will add to why it becomes even more important to incorporate resistance band training into your workout routines.
Active Aging Fitness Issue #1 – Staying Long and Strong
If you are going to continue to move great, you must have the mobility and stability required to accomplish that. As the body ages, mobility is the first thing you see decreasing, especially as it relates to rotation in the hips, shoulders and mid-back. This occurs for two reasons. First, soft tissues of the body begin to lose their elasticity making it more challenging to lengthen them out spontaneously. Second, you start decreasing the amplitude of your movements because the stability that is needed to protect your joints and tendons, when the arms and legs are fully extended, is lost.
By training with resistance bands, that active aging fitness individual can train through larger amplitudes of movement while the greatest resistance is being created at the end of the range of motion, where we need stability strength the most. As a result, band training causes your joint stabilization to be challenged, where it needs it the most, at the extreme ends of a movement. The more we strength train with bands, the longer, and stronger we remain which in turn provides us with more quality movement options as we age.
Example of Keeping Long and Strong – Assisted Band Training
Active Aging Fitness Issue #2 – Staying Powerful
For most active aging fitness individuals, the last thing they are worried about training for is power. However, when you look at what we do each and every day, power is the key to our body performing at higher levels of speed relative to our age. Power is the ability to generate force quickly. In life this means our ability to contract our muscles quickly and protect the body from potential injury when awkward unexpectedly movements happen.
Resistance bands allow you to train with power because the resistance is less at the beginning than at the end of the movement. As a result, you learn how to accelerate force which is the key to generating power. Regardless what band exercise is being performed, being able to accelerate against a force allows the muscles to learn how to contract quickly to generate power. Continually training with bands produces the power training effect that will be transferred into day-to-day movements regardless if they are planned or unexpected.
Active Aging Fitness Issue #3 – Slowing down with control is the #1 key to preventing injury
Our ability to slow down (decelerate) in a controlled fashion against fast momentum forces is critical to keeping our joints, bones and muscles safe from excessive trauma that often leads to injury. Knowing a resistance band’s stored energy is greatest when stretched out, it allows our body to be trained to slow down against a force that is going to cause you to return back off a strength movement faster.
Think of your body as being inside a sling shot. This accelerated return back to the starting position causes our body to learn how to handle forces that are faster than what a constant free weight or body weight resistance would create. Again, regardless of the resistance band exercise, this is a neuro-muscular response that is transferred into any daily movement we may be required to perform.
Active Aging Issue #4 – Gravity will not go away
Over years of working against the vertical forces of gravity lifting free weights, it is going to take its toll on the body’s joint surfaces, resulting in our joints being less tolerant to the vertical compression forces created by lifting weights.
Resistance band’s light weight construction allows strength training to occur using horizontal and rotational vector forces that are not gravity dominated and therefore cause significantly less joint compression. As a result, we can still strength train at any age with resistance bands while not having to incur all compression forces that come with using free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells.
Implementing resistance band training sooner than later into your strength training workouts allows joint surfaces to stay healthier and may very well extend out your ability to lift free weights longer in life if you chose to.
Active Aging Issue #5 – Body Weight Strength is the key to doing everything
How strong and efficient we are at lifting our own body will ultimately determine how well we function through life. Getting up from a chair, lifting ourselves up off the floor, being able to push or pull our body into certain positions will be what allows us to feel good about getting our body in and out of any possible position we are placed into during the day.
These strength skills require being able to perform body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, or get ups that in turn require core strength, balance, mobility and having the arm or leg strength to perform them. All of these movements can be resisted or more importantly “assisted” by resistance bands, so our ability to train and stay body weight strong is never lost regardless of our age or strength level.
Example of How to Do Assisted Plank Training – Plank Workout Using Bands
Active Aging Issue #6 – Muscles must react not just contract
Training in multiple planes, using multiple movement variations while being challenged by several different force vectors, teaches the body’s muscles how to react and not just contract. As the body ages, our response time or reaction time decreases because muscles can not contract to create force as quickly.
Resistance band training teaches muscles to be reactors (not just contractors of force) which allows you to create muscle contractions quicker when unexpected circumstances occur throughout the day. It also allows the body to automatically perform unconscious actions like various walking patterns, and reaching or pulling without having to consciously stop and think. A faster contracting muscle keeps joints, bones and tendons safe while allowing our body to function reflexively throughout the day.
Being part of an active aging life style is a great thing, especially when we know how to optimally prepare the body through our exercise program. As an active aging individual, being able to continue to strength train with weights is great. However, by incorporating band resistance training into your strength training workouts it will help ensure we stay ahead of Mother Nature and the influences she will have on an active aging body over time.
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