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Exercise

A Trainer's Advice on Altering Your Workout as You Age

You’ve been hitting the gym regularly since your early thirties, but the same workouts you did 20 years ago don’t leave you feeling the same way you did back then. There are a lot more aches and pains after a workout. Even more challenging – your favorite routines just aren’t as effective.

According to the National Institute on Aging, exercising at any age has significant effects on your health, but you need to follow a plan that is realistic for you, which can mean adjusting your workout as you get older so you avoid unnecessary injuries. Here are three ways to alter your program so you get the maximum benefit. (As always, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.)

Modify Your Movements. As a certified trainer, I have learned that one of the most important lessons is how to modify different moves to appeal to my clients of all ages. In my kickboxing classes, I always offer my students options to kick a little lower or remove the jump from a burpee [a strength exercise involving squatting and jumping] to protect their knees, hip or back. Actually, I demand it. There are easy modifications for practically every machine you’ll find on a gym floor as well as those when working with free weights; most include decreasing your range of motion, lowering the amount of weight and tweaking your reps. Check with your doctor to see if there are exercises or activities you should avoid. Then seek out a qualified instructor who takes your body concerns into consideration. They should be able to walk you through a program that helps strengthen your body while protecting your weaker areas.

Focus On Flexibility. A limber body moves more efficiently than a stiff one. Being flexible helps keeps your whole body working properly and injury free. As age causes joint motion to be more restricted and decrease flexibility, it is believed that stretching stimulates the production or retention of lubricants between connective tissue fibers like your tendons and ligaments. Think about adding more yoga, Pilates, barre and other stretching classes to your weekly program. Just make sure to learn proper alignment and form so you don’t inadvertently hurt yourself.

Diversify Your Modus Operandi. Been a faithful servant to only one form of exercise for years … maybe even decades? If you want to see changes, try switching up your routines. “If you do the same type of exercise day in and day out, your body can come complacent and your muscles won’t grow or get stronger,” says Genarro Ferra (http://www.gennaroferra.com/) former Mr. Australia and creator of Ferra Fitness, which specializes in reshaping bodies over 40.  Ferra, 47, stresses that new forms of strength training must be a key component of your new, well-rounded program. “As you age, your muscles start to atrophy, so you must incorporate some type of weight training so the muscles keep growing and don’t get flat.” Ferra suggests trying it all, from yoga to CrossFit. “Trying different types of workouts great for the mind,” he says. “The change in stimuli keeps you challenged and coming back for more.”

Celebrity reporter Delaina Dixon delivers it with sass and class every weekday morning on VH1’s celebrity entertainment news show The Gossip Table (http://www.vh1.com/shows/the_gossip_table/) on VH1. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of DivaGalsDaily.com, Life & Style for the Multicultural Woman  (http://divagalsdaily.com/). An avid enthusiast of fitness at every age, she is a certified group fitness instructor with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.