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Recovery and the Aging Process: Tips on How to Stay Active as You Get Older

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Getting older is unavoidable. We all come face-to-face with the annoying effects of aging eventually. One of those downsides is slower, less efficient recovery from exercise or stress. If you’re getting older, you’ve definitely felt it. Some things just don’t work like they used to. The good news? You can do something about it.

Start your Recovery During your Workout

strength trainingA comprehensive program includes flexibility and mobility, cardio, resistance training, balance and stability, soft tissue management, and more. That being said, make sure to prioritize your time in the gym based on what’s important. If you only have 30 minutes, you’re going to have to choose the right bits to avoid trouble later on.

If your primary goal is to stay in shape and alleviate pain, always start with corrective exercises that build up a base heart rate. Get warm and in the right positioning first, then do total body, resistance training exercises. Strength training has been shown to reduce risk of osteoporosis and diabetes in older populations, not to mention additional benefits of muscle growth and lean body mass. If you’re going to do cardio, stick to non weight-bearing, low-impact options such as swimming or biking.

Choose your exercises based on your injury and health history as well. Common recreational  and overuse injury sites are the ankle, hip, knee, elbow, and shoulder. If you’re going to do a upper body push, consider a dumbbell floor press or resistance bands instead of a heavy barbell bench. For lower body, a box squat might be more appropriate with those lacking ankle flexibility to hit full depth with form. Limiting range of motion under stress is great ideas for aging populations with injury history.

Utilize feedback

As we age, listening to our body’s creaks and groans becomes more paramount. It’s difficult to intuitively understand where your body is at on a day-to-day basis. However, you can start tracking your wellness throughout the week, especially if you lead a busy, active life.

A good tool to use are RPE scales, in which you rate your perceived exertion from a workout on a scale of 0-10. That way, if you’ve had a few days of Level 8 workouts, you can use your active time to go for a nice walk or do some yoga. In the same vein, if your workouts have been easy but you’re feeling fatigued and run down, that could be an indication that you’re not recovering well enough in other areas of life.strength training (1)-1-1

Other great tools available as tech ages along with us are wearable devices. These devices can be an advanced computer on your wrist, or a state-of-the-art compression wrap designed to send signals to your muscles. Wearables send you information such as steps taken, calories burned, and heart rate. Consistently higher than normal resting heart rate can indicate poor recovery, so look out for that.

lawrence_gray_shirt-2Helix compression sleeves, on the other hand, use advanced technology to keep you active without pain. Their medical-grade compression offers up to 30 mmHg of pressure, which helps with stability in movement. Even more, Body Helix compression sleeves are made with specific material that stretches seamlessly with your body. These two combined help your aging joints navigate space as you bend, run, cut, and swing, helping manage overuse and acute injury.

Recover better than ever

Unfortunately, as we get older, recovery does take longer. Elevated inflammatory response, hormonal impairment, and cell death all contribute to a slower rebound.

The typical recovery period lasts up to 72 hours, even in youth. Add age to the equation and you’re always playing catch up.

As our cells and mitochondria (intracellular power sources) age, they become worse and worse at metabolism. Acute damage, such as that initiated by exercise or stress, can trigger more cell death if left alone long enough to cause severe inflammation. Fortunately, plenty of scientists have labored in coming up with solutions to this problem:

  1. Proper Nutritionvegetables-fresh-veggies-food
    Whole fruits and vegetables provide vital micronutrients that manage cellular processes. Getting raw foods in your diet consistently improves your chances at efficient removal of waste.
  2. A Good Night’s Sleep
    Importance of adequate sleep cannot be overstated. Sleep drives removal of potentially toxic metabolic waste more than anything.
  3. Active Recovery
    Compression especially signals site-specific recycling of fluids. Essentially, it takes the waste away from your muscles and joints and bring back healthier, more efficient metabolites. If you know you have a tricky knee, thigh, or elbow, wearing compression sleeves can keep you in the game much longer.

Age comes for the best of us. If you want to stay active and thriving, take the above steps to take care of yourself. You might be old on paper, but you can live out those years feeling revitalized by prioritizing your recovery. Whether through new tricks, such as compression and wearable fitness devices, or old tried-and-trues like a healthy diet, try some of these tips out for yourself and see how you feel.

Kimber Rozier, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Kimber Rozier, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Kimber Rozier is a decorated rugby player for the USA and strength coach who loves sharing her knowledge through writing. As an author, her contribution to Stack, EliteFTS, Men’s Health, and more showcase her expertise across multiple fields. As the assistant coach of women’s rugby at multiple Division I universities, an NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist, Precision Nutrition nutritionist, and personal trainer, she continues to advocate performance, fitness, weight loss, and an healthy lifestyle.

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