How to Feel Better as we Age and Prevent Injuries
In your 20’s you’re invincible right?! Work hard, play hard. That way of thinking continues until those actions lead to injuries, aches, and pains. Some use those pains as a wake-up call to get healthy and some just consider it an inevitable part of ageing.
I know firsthand how an intense training regimen without proper self-care leant me two lovely overuse injuries in my 20s. It was my wake up call.
These overuse injuries knocked me out of the game for months at a time. I learned the tough way how important taking time to heal and doing healing practices were as the fitness regimen itself.
Now in my mid-thirties– I feel stronger, more flexible, mobile, and energetic than I did in my 20s with less intense workouts and more time implementing the healing practices. All of this with better results!
Here are my self-care recommendations for feeling better in your 30s and 40s than you did in your 20s. In actuality, these are going to help you age more gracefully and pain-free into any age if done with consistency.
In your fitness program, you should always schedule in your rest days. When I say rest day, I don’t mean you’ll be lying on the couch vegging out all day.
What a rest day means, is you won’t be doing your fitness training practice such as weights or other strenuous activities like heavy cardio. You will be letting your muscles take a break.
During this time it is still good to move your body by going on walks, doing stretches, foam rolling, and other non-exercise movements. Read more about this below!
Less Sitting/More Non-Exercise Movement
With our modern lifestyle, one of the missing elements in so many people’s lives is general movement. Let’s take a look here – we managed to get our fitness routine set and we started eating healthier but what do we do with the other hours of the week?
If you are sitting for the majority of this time you are missing out on some precious body-loving movement. You can boost your metabolism, increase blood flow, and have more energy just by doing non-exercise movement – it is called NEAT. There are so many ways we can increase movement throughout the day, from cleaning your house to yard work, playing with your dog, and even taking the stairs instead of the escalator.
Check out these handy weight-loss opportunities you may be missing.
In addition, a lot of people do have desk jobs that require them to be at a desk for much of the day. Can you purchase a stand-up desk or request one from your company? If not, take regular breaks to stretch, walk, and move. On your lunch break. Take 15-20 minutes to eat and use the rest of the time to walk. Where there’s a will there’s a way!
Read more about this on my blog about boosting your health with NEAT.
Flexibility and mobility
You can incorporate stretching and mobility into your everyday routine. Try to start and/or end your day with some light mobility exercises which helps to increase the range of motion that you have in your sockets like your hips and shoulders. Incorporate light stretching to the end of your weight room and/or cardio workouts. It helps to loosen up and elongate the muscles you tighten up in your workout.
Here are the best stretches to try before and after your workout.
One way or another, find time to get these into your routine and it will help you avoid tight sore muscles and joints. One of my clients once told me their doctor said exercise and diet aren’t the only keys to longevity and feeling good – it’s also how flexible and mobile you are. I couldn’t agree more!
Foam Rolling/Trigger Point Therapy
If you have ever been inside of a gym you have probably seen someone – what looks like torturing themselves – while rolling on cyclinder styrofoam device. This is foam rolling. Although foam rolling can be painful, it is a great tool for targeting the fascia of your muscles. This part of our muscles can develop painful knots that are called trigger points. It’s hard to remove these areas through stretching so it is helpful to foam roll after training.
For deeper knots using a tennis or lacrosse ball is very beneficial. If left uncared for these tight knots can start to pull on joints, create imbalances, and even lead to injury. If you have some serious knots you can’t seem to break up with a foam roller or ball, search for a therapist who does trigger point therapy.
Regular foam rolling can also help improve flexibility, range of motion, and muscular recovery. If done regularly the pain starts to subside as well. Read more about it here!
My Favorite Foam Roller
Check out this lightweight and high-density foam roller on Amazon.
When I started focusing on exercise that I actually enjoyed, the world just became brighter. I’m a personal trainer, so I’m supposed to like all forms of exercise, right?! Nope, very wrong. In fact, there are a lot of exercises out there that don’t bring me joy. I used to do them because I thought that was just what I had to do.
That said, I did a lot of research and exploring and tried out so many different types of training. I started to realize there were types of movement that I really enjoyed and I decided to return to those. It made all the difference. I recommend you also do the same.
Explore and try new styles. Return to the forms of training that bring you joy, the movements that felt good, that made you feel happy. Yes, exercise can and should be challenging at points but you should look forward to that challenge and be excited to come back for more.
What does this have to do with feeling better? Learning how to reset, become more grounded, more aware of emotions, and your breathing– can make all the difference in your fitness and overall well-being.
You may find that doing regular breathing exercises can help you with your fitness programs. After starting my own meditation/breathing practice I was able to take deeper longer breaths during my yoga practice. I also became very aware of connecting my breath to movement when doing resistance training, in turn allowing me to deeply connect to various muscles that I’m focusing on.
Last but not least, in addition to my fitness regimen, meditation helped me with calming my anxiety levels.
Eating a Plant-based Diet
Diet is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body. What we eat fuels us, heals us, and rebuilds us. If we can do one thing today to improve our health it would be this one.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the above are important but if you can get this one right you will be fighting a lot of what causes us those aches and pains as we age. Eating a diet high in plant foods is very anti-inflammatory, helping you recover from workouts better and faster.
These plant foods in their natural form are full of water, fiber, and nutrients. You need all three of these in your diet to feel satiated, energetic, and keep the weight off with ease.
Check out these amazing high protein plant-based foods.
Try this recipe tonight for a low calorie, high nutrient meal you’ll love to add to the rotation:
JustFit’s Buddha Bowl
1 sweet potato
½ cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
¼ cup brown rice (optional)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic- finely minced
½ cup vegetable broth- extra in case needed for sauteing
2 tbsp salsa verde
¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos
¼ medium-sized avocado
Salt, pepper, other spices of choice.
1 cup spinach or other greens
First, boil or bake your sweet potato, then sprinkle it with sea salt and black pepper. Keep warm while you are making the rest of the bowl.
Saute onions, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic in ½ cup of vegetable broth. Once fragrant and mushrooms are softened add a little more broth, beans of choice and warm.
Once the mixture has a thick stew consistency it is ready to add to your bowl.
Start to layer first with greens and rice, add bean and vegetable mixture, chop up the potatoes in cubes and add to the bowl.
Top with salsa, jalapenos, and avocado.
I know this feels like more things to add to your already busy to-do list. It’s really a matter of priority here. How good do you want to feel? Do you want to age injury-free and joint-pain free? I know I do, so I find ways to fit it in. Maybe don’t try to do every single one of these every day but absolutely every week.
Some items like meditation, stretching and extra movement are doable on the day to day. When I realized how important this was to me, I started to put myself in my schedule just like anything else, it became easy. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way!