By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
Many people believe that aerobic exercise, also known as “cardio” is the key to staying healthy as you age. Cardio is an important component to include in any exercise regimen because it can increase your heart rate and help you burn calories. However, it is not the only form of exercise that matters.
In addition to cardio, you should work your total body by strengthening your legs, back, chest, shoulders, and abdominals. Then at the end of your workout, stretch your muscles for a complete total body workout.
Total Body Training improves your balance
Total body training is not only important to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes, it can also significantly improve your balance. Often times, balance issues arise as a result of muscular weaknesses and abnormalities and these issues will likely lead to falls. It is of utmost importance to avoid falling as you age and here is how total body strengthening can significantly reduce your chance of falling!
To avoid falling after you lose your balance, a quick recovery step is needed to regain your balance. In order to make that recovery step after you lose your balance requires total body muscular control especially in your core (abdominal) and leg muscles.
Proper strengthening of your total body can change the way you react and step quickly therefore, preventing a fall from occurring. Failing to strengthen, stretch and aerobically training your muscles will likely lead to balance issues. Therefore, be proactive and train your total body!
An example of a Total Body Exercise Program
A classic approach to engaging in a total body exercise program is to include
- 20-30 minutes of cardio
- 20 minutes of strength training that consists of four-five upper and four -five lower body exercises for 3 days per week.
- Your strength training program should consist of 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each strengthening exercise. Your muscles should feel slightly fatigued once you get close to your 10-15th repetition. If your 15th repetition feels easy then add a little more weight.
- Lastly, if you are wondering which order of exercise is best, cardio then strength training or strength training then cardio, I say pick the order that works best for you because it really does not matter! Personally, I prefer to do my cardio before I strength train simply because I am more motivated to complete my cardio exercise at the beginning of my workout, relative to after my strength training session.
*For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
**Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen
Graham DF, Carty CP, Lloyd DG, Barrett RS. Biomechanical predictors of maximal balance recovery performance amongst community-dwelling older adults. Experimental Gerontology. 2015; 66:39-46.