PROFESSOR FRED'S FITNESS FINESSE
Your Ticket to a Fuller Life
Meet Fred-friend of the butterfly. Fred’s 78th birthday is just around the corner. He's definitely "Post 50". He is also quite healthy and fit, and he plans to stay that way in years to come. With various titles that could appear after his name: B.S. from M.I.T., M.A. from Harvard, M.S. in Applied Math. from the University of Colorado, M.S. in Statistics from Stanford and Ph.D. from Stanford today he also claims these:
SilverSneakers® Instructor, Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor certifications from ACE (American Council on Exercise)
A CONVERSATION WITH
Fred Miercort, Ph.D.
You can turn to Fred for advice on fitness. If you desire to know what he has done
in this regard in " phase two" of his life he will tell you, “Here are the various
titles that could appear after my name: B.S. (General Science) M.A. (Teaching)
M.S. (Applied Mathematics) M.S. (Statistics) and Ph.D. (Operations Research- Stanford.) But what about phase three?
SAGE: How does one finesse fitness Post50?
FRED MIERCORT: Well, my experience as a SilverSneakers® instructor tells me that finessing this requires a certain Steady Attitude. I know quite a bit about exercise for older adults. Over the years I've also learned a fair amount about other factors that influence fitness. Being "bendy" is more than just physical (strength, flexibility, good balance, etc.), you know- although that's certainly very important.
A deeper approach includes good health, which is more than just freedom from disease. The kind of health I'm interested in, and I'm sure you are too, is a state of vibrant health where we have the vitality and energy to participate in the activities that interest and excite us.
Now I must say that exercise is a positive contributor. As a septuagenarian myself, I have made it a goal to know a lot about a healthy body for state-of-the-art elders. I imagine most of the people reading this are anywhere from about 50 on up. That includes a lot of “Boomers” and people like myself, and folks on up into their 80's and 90's.
SAGE: Do You Need Special Fitness Equipment?
FRED: Yes. I recommend three different resistance tools - a small (about 6"-8") inflatable exercise ball. The second are hand weights, or dumbbells. The third is a resistance tube or band.
Fitness -Post 50
Sage Companion Project responders tell us you are seriously interested in staying fit Post 50.
With this in mind, we reached out to our pal, Professor Fred Miercort, a “senior exercise” instructor.
We asked for his take on the subject which, as we add decades, may require a bit more "finesse", as we may discover.
Given his credentials, we invited Fred to join us and share his observations about "senior exercise". Check out his article on "senior body builders" and keep fit with your own exercise program. It's important!
resistance tools - inflatable exercise ball- hand weights, or dumbbells- resistance tubes or bands
What are some key contributors for
being flexible and strong as 55+ person?
A key contributor is exercise! You can’t be truly fit unless your cardiovascular system and major muscle groups are all functioning well. Flexibility and balance are important contributors as well. One of the best ways I know to get all these components working well together is to follow a sensible exercise program. And not just for a few days or weeks, but over the long term.
Have you always been a "Fitness Person"
I’ve always exercised (well, there was one period in my late twenties and early thirties when I didn’t exercise much – I need to be honest here!). Even though all the benefits of exercise listed above can be a strong motivator to participate in exercise for seniors, sometimes our busy lives and other demands on our time can keep us from exercising as much as we probably should. But if we’re motivated strongly enough we can always make time for at least a modest amount of exercise (and a modest amount is a heck of a lot better than none!).
What inspired you to maintain your program over the many, many years?
About 10 or 12 years ago, I was on a family trip to Glacier National Park. One day, while on a hike of moderate difficulty, we encountered an older couple who were hiking briskly along. We stopped to talk with them and found out that they were both 85. They were clearly enjoying the hike and the scenery. I decided right then and there that they were my role models. I vowed that I too would be able to hike like that when I reached 85. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do that, barring serious illness or injury, and I hope that you will too.
What are you up to these days in terms of keeping your program going?
I work part-time at the YWCA as a “Fitness Associate”. Every year the same thing happens. People (including many older adults) make a New Year’s resolution that “This is the year I’m going to start an exercise program”. So they join the Y and sign up for an exercise class or two, or work with a fitness associate or personal trainer to set up an individual exercise program.
Challenge is that over 50% of these folks are gone after 6 months! For various reasons, they just don’t stick to it (they don’t improve as fast as they had hoped; they work too hard and suffer an injury; they get bored; they have an illness and don’t go back to exercising after they recover, etc., etc.).
What’s your remedy for lack-of-follow through ?
I believe that if a person- regardless of age- has a) realistic expectations about what exercise can do for you and if b) you actually follow through with a program that is within your capability (but just a little challenging), the very noticeable increase in strength and endurance happening in a relatively short time creates the reward to continue on.
Is there a way to encourage dedication to an exercise program?
Oh yes! I believe that working out at home with an age-friendly exercise DVD can help people. I've observed a noticeable improvement in people taking the class. But class members told me they wanted to be able to have something to keep them on track at home. And I have come to see that older adults can achieve real success when exercising at home several times a week using a DVD!
How can can this help?
Well, it can be a primary preventive plan. It can help improve
strength, cardiovascular, and cognitive awareness. It can encourage social interaction which I believe is very important throughout life. And as a physical activity program,"boomers" older adults, and people with specific conditions like obesity diabetes and heart disease can expect positive change.
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