Don't get stuck in the vicious cycle of injury and inactivity.
Losing muscle strength is a common part of aging. It means, as we get older, we experience more weakness and have reduced stamina. So we're not moving like we used to! It affects mobility and activity, and this age-related muscle loss is, therefore, a key risk factor for disability and death as we age. It's important to do what you can to keep your muscles moving — and keep them strong.
Warm Up Aging Muscles
It's a no-brainer that continuing to exercise and get physical activity helps you maintain your muscle strength. But to help wake up your muscles and stay injury-free (and therefore avoid the vicious cycle of injury and inactivity) as you get older, you may need to take time to warm up your muscles first — so says one "older" Olympian who's become familiar with the effects of aging.
Matt Grevers has been swimming for 30 years and has dozens of major medals (including six Olympic medals) to his name. So he knows a thing or two about protecting his muscles for the long run.
"I can't just dive in the water and go super fast. It takes 30, 40 minutes of me stretching and warming up my body before I can just go. Where really 15 years ago, I could wake out of bed, dive in the water and go full speed in minutes. ... The body of the muscles need a little more time," he said.
Remember Proper Nutrition & Core Strength
Grevers, a member of the Winner's Circle of elite athletes who prioritize their health in every aspect of their lives, said he also focuses on proper nutrition and maintaining core strength to fuel his body.
"Being a little older, I don't have endless amounts of energy," he said. The athlete is 36 years old.
Watch Grevers' full video above to get more advice on putting your health first so you can live your fullest life.
Add Warm-Ups to Your Daily Routine
Grevers does what's called a dynamic warm-up before his activity. It fires up the muscles and gets the blood flowing, typically focusing on the muscle groups and ranges of motion needed for the athlete's sport. But if you're not a high-performance athlete, don't worry! You can still take advantage of the benefits of stretching and strength building. Try this quick and low-impact routine in the morning to wake up your muscles for the day. It just takes 7 minutes and you don't need any gear!
7-Minute Low-Impact Morning Workout
1. Start with some stretching. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Reach your hands up toward the sky, and then gently bend over toward your toes. Make sure to take good, deep breaths, and relax your neck as you bend over. You'll feel your hamstrings, hips and lower back stretch.
2. Move into a plank position and do 10 push-ups. For an extra challenge, you can lift one of your feet off the ground. But don't worry if you can't. If you hear your body or joints cracking as you do this, walk your hands out wider.
3. On your last push-up, go straight into upward dog. Keep your hands where they are and transition by laying your hips on the floor. Press the tops of your feet into the floor as well. Reach your head upward with your chest out.
4. Transition into downward dog. Bring your hips off the floor and stand back on your feet. With your hands on the floor, reach your hips toward the sky so your body is in a triangle position. Keep your neck loose and relaxed.
5. While in this position, lift one foot off the ground and point it up toward the sky. Then bend that knee and bring it toward your chest, planting your foot between your hands. Stand up in this lunge position, and raise your hands toward the sky. Keep your feet flat. Your front knee should line up right above your ankle.
6. Bring your hands back down to the sides of your front foot and straighten that front knee. Bend your head forward and lean into this stretch as you straighten your front leg. Then, grab your front ankle with your hand (on the same side of your body) and lift your other hand toward the sky, This should open up your chest. Bring your hands back down around your foot, and transition back to a plank.
7. Repeat Phase 1 with the opposite leg.
8. Do 10 more push-ups, lifting your other leg again if you wish.
9. Transition into upward dog, and then downward dog. Lift one foot up toward the sky again, and then plant it between your hands. This time, keep your feet in this lunge pose. Bring your head and chest up, and reach your hands toward the sky.
10. Stand up on your front leg, and lift up your back leg, pointing it straight out from your hip. Balancing on your front leg, keep your arms out and palms down. Lean forward until your back and back leg are parallel to the ground. This may be challenging for some, but don't worry! You can hold onto a chair, wall or table for extra balance.
11. If you can, lean down and place your hands around your front foot, keep your back leg up. Then, with your front foot and corresponding hand on the ground, lift your other hand up toward the sky. Ask a family member for help if you need someone to stabilize you, or continuing holding onto something for balance.
12. Bring your hand and foot down to meet the others so you are simply bending forward to touch your toes. Transition to a plank.
13. Repeat Phase 3 with the opposite leg.
14. Do one last set of 10 push-ups. Transition to upward dog, then downward dog.
15. Sit down on the floor and lift your legs up in the air, keeping your back straight and arms forward. This is a boat pose. Hold this position or, for an extra challenge, do 10 sit-ups while keeping your limbs straight.
16. Finally, go back to your boat pose and hold this position. Or, for an extra challenge, cross your hands over your chest and lean back so your body is almost straight but not touching the ground.
Now, take a deep breath and take on the day with strong muscles!