Active Aging Fitness – Why Band Training is Made for this Population

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It’s no secret that our population is getting older while staying highly active. It’s called the active aging fitness population.

Many of us are a member of the active aging fitness population. This is AWESOME! However, the fact of the matter is Father Time is still going to have his say on how your body is going to change. If your exercise program does not reflect and address those changes, problems are going to occur.

Knowing some of the physical changes that occur as we age, made me begin to look at why and how band training can dramatically improve, slow down or even postpone these changes. Hopefully, after reviewing some of these age-related changes, it will become even more obvious why incorporating resistance band training into your workout routines is critical.

Active Aging Fitness Issues

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. This makes it more challenging to lengthen out spontaneously. Second, you start decreasing the amplitude of your movements. This is because the muscle stability needed to protect your joints and tendons, when the arms and legs are fully extended, becomes weaker.

By training with resistance bands, the active aging fitness individual can train through larger amplitudes of movement with the greatest level of resistance occurring at the end of the range of motion. This is where stability is needed the most. As a result, band training trains joint stabilization where it is needed the most. The more we strength train with bands, the longer, and stronger we remain. This, in turn, provides us with more movement options as we age.

Example of Keeping Long and Strong – Assisted Band Training

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 reacting quickly when needed. Power is the ability to generate force quickly. In life this becomes important when we have to instantly react to awkward unexpectedly movements to avoid injury. Falls are a perfect example of this. They are coincidentally the #1 factor behind senior age injuries.

Resistance bands allow you to train with power because the resistance is a “variable resistance.” This is why resistance is less at the beginning of a band strength exercise versus at the end of the movement. As a result, people can learn how to accelerate a force. This is the key factor to generating power.

Regardless of what band exercise is being performed, being able to accelerate against a force allows the muscles to learn how to contract quickly. Continually training with quick contractions produces a power training effect that will transfer into day-to-day movements, regardless of if the movement is planned or awkwardly unexpected.

3. Slowing down

Slowing down is the #1 key to preventing injury. Our ability to slow down (decelerate) in a controlled fashion against momentum forces is critical to keeping our joints, bones and muscles safe from excessive trauma. This can lead to joint wear and tear as well as injury. Training with an ascending band resistance, that increases as range of motion increases, results in movement slowing down. This creates less ground contact forces that can traumatize knee and hip joints.

4. Gravity will not go away

Over years of working against the vertical forces of gravity, it begins to take its toll on the body’s joint surfaces. This results in joint arthritis. As a result, joints become less tolerant to the vertical compression forces with daily activities as well as the forces that come with lifting weights.

A resistance band’s light weight construction allows strength training to occur using horizontal and rotational vector forces that are not gravity dominated. This causes significantly less joint compression. As a result, individuals can still strength train at any age with resistance bands without having to incur the gravity-driven 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, will be important in decreasing avoidable joint trauma that will occur from lifting weights only.

5. Body weight exercises are not easily performed

How strong 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 easily deal with daily activities.

As an active aging fitness enthusiast, body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, or get ups are not easily performed. They require core strength, balance, mobility and having the arm or leg strength to move the body. Fortunately all of these body weight movements can be “assisted” by resistance bands when muscles are not able to lift them by themselves. Therefore, with bands as an assisted tool any body weight exercise is possible regardless of age or strength level.

6. Muscles must be 3-D Strong

The body is a 3-dimensional structure. As a result, it must be strength-trained in multiple planes and using multiple movement pattern variations while using multiple lines of force. Doing this teaches and strength trains the body to become 3 dimensionally strong. Keeping the body 3-D strong will in turn allow individuals to perform daily and recreational activities easier.

Active Aging Fitness Summary

Being part of an active aging fitness life style is a great thing, especially when we know how to optimally prepare the body with our exercise program. As an active aging individual, being able to continue to strength train with weights is great. However, incorporating band resistance training into your strength training workouts will help ensure you are staying ahead of Father Time and the influences he will have on an active aging body.

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