Oh, the beauties of aging. As you grow older, not only do you lose lean muscle mass, but your body also endures changes in strength, coordination, swiftness, and stamina, according to Harvard Health Publishing. When you lose lean muscle mass and don’t do anything to build it back up, it becomes more difficult to function independently. Research shows that your fitness level starts to gradually decrease after your 20s, and the decline speeds up in your 70s, according to WebMD. In order to keep you strong, independent, and in good overall health, we’ve rounded up the top-recommended exercises to increase stamina as you age.
One of the biggest concerns among my older clients is maintaining their level of fitness. Considering the fact that you lose power and endurance with age, it’s crucial to keep up a solid strength training regimen, along with performing aerobic and anaerobic conditioning exercises. Continue to challenge your body. By doing so, you’ll hang onto your lean muscle supply and maintain a base level of fitness.
Don’t make the mistake of switching over to lower-impact or lower-intensity exercises. Sure, lower-intensity cardio such as zone 2 training has its place, but you want to continue performing challenging strength exercises that target your back and your legs, and push your body with higher-intensity cardio activities to increase your stamina, strength, and strength endurance (so long as your health permits you to do so). It’s always a smart idea to check in with your healthcare provider or a certified fitness professional before you get started.
Now, let’s get into the top-recommended exercises to increase stamina as you age. Add these movements to your routine to stay fit and maintain a high quality of life.
Dumbbell Goblet Squats start with you holding a dumbbell up to your heart’s center, making sure your elbows remain under the weight. Hinge your hips back, and squat down toward the floor, all while keeping your core tight. When you hit parallel, push back up through your heels, flexing your glutes to finish the motion. Complete 12 to 15 reps.
Dumbbell Walking Lunges begin with you holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bring one leg forward, and firmly plant that foot on the floor. Then, lower your body into a lunge, while using control, until your back knee lightly graces the floor. Then, walk forward with the other leg, and repeat. Complete 12 to 15 reps for each leg.
Next up, let’s walk through Bodyweight Rows. Work with the equipment that’s most convenient and available to you, whether it’s a TRX/suspension strap, bar, or rings. If you opt for a strap, position your hands in a neutral grip with your palms facing each other. If you’re working with a bar, use a pronated (overhand) or supinated (underhand) grip.
Bring both feet forward, and lean back a bit to at least 45 degrees. Keep your hips high and core muscles activated as you pull your body in. Do so by driving with your elbows toward your hips. Squeeze your upper back and lats to finish the motion, then completely straighten your arms to get a solid stretch in your shoulder blades. Complete 15 to 20 reps.
If you want to give your stamina a boost, Rower Intervals are a stellar exercise to add to your fitness routine. If you’re a beginner when it comes to interval training, start with shorter sprints. This would be five sets of 200 meters, then resting twice as long as you took to finish in between. Try to maintain the same pace for each set. If you’re more conditioned, you can complete four sets of 250 meters or five sets of 300 meters.
If you have access to a sled at your gym, start by loading it with a light weight (one 45-pound weight if there’s only one slot or two 25-pound weights if there are two slots). If you’re a newbie to the Sled Push, you’re going to grip the sled high on its handles, keeping your arms extended. Then, push the sled 20 to 40 yards one way, then push it back, with your body at a 45-degree angle to the bars at all times. Keep your eyes on the ground as you push the sled. Rest for two to five minutes before performing another set, aiming for three to five sets of 20 to 40 yards each.
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.