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7 Hot Fitness Trends – Are They Right for 50 Plus?

7 Hot Fitness Trends – Are They Right for 50 Plus?
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By Nina Malkin

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine conducts a survey to suss out the hottest trends in physical fitness. But just because “everybody’s doing it” doesn’t make it a smart choice for you. Here, Houston, Texas-based physical therapist Bill Case, PT, SCS (www.keepfitandmoving.com), weighs in on what to try and why—or why not.

1) Wellness coaching: This holistic approach integrates behavioral change science into health promotion, disease prevention and rehabilitation programs based on individual needs and goals. It kicks the one-on-one personal training concept to the next level, with the coach providing support, guidance and encouragement on healthy habits beyond exercise.

Right for 50 plus? You bet! Bad habits over a lifetime may have already compromised your condition; wellness coaching seeks to correct that. “Behavior modification goes hand in hand with proper exercise form and technique,” says Case. “One-on-one coaching is an advantage to monitor, adjust and track you progress.”

2) Functional fitness: So you can do 100 sit-ups—how does that help you in real life? That’s the thinking behind functional fitness: exercises designed to improve balance, coordination and endurance to enhance your ability to perform daily activities.

Right for 50 plus? Absolutely, because functional training now can help you avoid age-related injuries later, such as those from falls. “Functional fitness takes the guesswork out of training,” adds Case. “Exercises are designed for specific activities, with emphasis on performing them correctly.” Tip: Practice posture and balance moves in front of a mirror so you can see how the proper new position looks.

3) Body weight training: Trendy, yes, but body weight training is hardly new. The technique employs your own body as opposed to equipment (i.e., dumbbells or machines) to build muscle strength and tone—old-school exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and planks.

Right for 50 plus? Possibly. While BWT can minimize the risk of overloading with a too-heavy weight, if not properly supervised it could aggravate joint problems in the shoulder, hip, back or knee. Resultant overuse injury, tendonitis or strained joints might occur after prolonged improper training.  “Always listen to your body and stop when something doesn’t feel right,” advises Case.

4) Group personal training: Small groups of two or more meet at least once a week with a personal trainer for both guidance and support—a compromise between large exercises classes and one-on-one training.

Right for 50 plus? Yes, as long as those in your workout partners have similar fitness levels and goals, so the trainer can tailor a program for the group as a whole. “The ideal group trainer is keenly able to assess strength and flexibility limitations,” says Case, warning, “It’s easy to fall into an injury crack if you don’t want to stand out in a small crowd.” So find the right trainer and keep communication open.

5) Outdoor activities: Your mama always told you to get some fresh air—who knew she was so buzz-worthy! Fun stuff like hiking, canoeing and bicycling, as well as outdoor games and sports, is all the rage now.

Right for 50 plus? Sure—as long as your ego doesn’t trip you up. Playing outside gets you in shape while letting you engage socially with others—a boon for boomers. “Problems occur when people who aren’t in good physical shape for the activity push through anyway,” cautions Case. To avoid injury, research potential problems associated with a sport so you’ll know what demands are necessary, then make sure not overdo this “simple” activity.

6) High intensity interval training: Commonly known as HIIT, this workout involves bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by brief periods of recovery and typically takes less than 30 minutes to complete. It’s attractive to people who want to get in a serious workout in less time.

Right for 50 plus? Not unless you’re already in injury-free tip-top shape. “For newbies, HIIT has overuse injury written all over it,” says Case. HIIT workouts may be of briefer duration, but they are by no means a shortcut to fitness.

7) Boot camp: A series of drills inspired by military basic training are performed in a group setting, guided by an enthusiastic instructor. Rolling cardio, strength, endurance and flexibility into one whopping workout, boot camp’s popularity doesn’t seem to be waning.

Right for 50 plus? Skip it, private—and that’s an order! The gung-ho instructor barks out exercises yet offers little in the way of hands-on how-to, making this a poor choice for beginners. “I’ve seen too many patients injured in boot camps,” says Case. “Overuse injuries after the first few days will not only keep you from continuing the classes, but may limit future exercises for months due to an aggressive injury.” Don’t believe it? Watch a boot camp workout and ask yourself honestly if it’s worth the risk.

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An all-around wordsmith, Nina Malkin is a journalist, novelist, copywriter and memoirist. She’s also an avid collector of lovely things from eras past—read her musings at http://www.vintagevirna.blogspot.com/