It was a busy Sunday morning at our favorite breakfast house. As my husband and I eagerly wait to hear our names called, I do what I most often do: people watch. Taking a sip of my coffee, my attention was caught by a precious elderly woman and her family as they walked into the waiting area.  Slowly walking past us, a chair was pulled out for her to sit on. She turned and began lowering herself to sit down, when suddenly … plop! She was only able to lower herself about 5-6 inches before the strength of her legs gave out. She just fell into the chair.

In my enjoyable pastime of people-watching, I most often like observing their health and fitness habits. This particular time, I observed the effects of muscles that have atrophied. Recalling a definition from one of my manuals on the meaning of being fit as “the ability to perform your daily activities with ease.” I concluded that she lacked a fit body. She simply did not have enough lower body strength to perform this easy task.

Most often, it’s checked off as “the normal aging process.” But, really? Does it have to be that way? I say not. I don’t know about you, but I certainly want to be able to get on and off the sofa (or toilet seat for that matter) easily. I want to carry my bag of groceries into the house without straining my back. I want to step onto the curb or a few steps up to my front door without huffing and puffing. I want a strong body for years to come!

Too many of us accept this way of living. However, if you can have health and vitality through your golden years, wouldn’t you want that? Great! Then what you will want to do is strength training, and you need to start now. Strength training (also known as resistance training) will improve your muscle tone, keep your bones strong, and improve your posture, energy, confidence and balance. If you are not sure where to begin, here are some suggestions:

Hire a personal trainer.  Go to the trainer or have the trainer come to you. This is, of course, my personal favorite. Getting the help of a certified fitness professional to design a program and teach you how to perform the exercises is the best method. However, it’s not the only option.

Buy a DVD.  There are great choices online and in bookstores.

Purchase some home equipment. Doesn’t have to be a lot.  Just begin with some light free weights, a mat, a resistance band or two.  I’ve seen inexpensive fitness kits at stores and have even made some up for my own clients.

Join a gym or studio and have staff show you how to use the equipment.

Strength train 2-3 times per week for best results.

Balance your workout with aerobic and flexibility exercises.

Not only is it important to know how to properly perform the exercises, it’s also wise to take a fitness test.  If you belong to a gym or know of a trainer, take a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR Q) to determine your suitability for beginning an exercise routine. Checking with your doctor is recommended, especially if you have some medical issues. The key here is to take action today. And in your quest for wellness, never give up!   

Pam Vos is Owner of Forever Fit! 3810 W. Channel Islands Blvd., Oxnard. 805-382-4444. Pam has developed a 12-week program entitled “Forever Fit Living” which she teaches for small groups, individuals and corporations. E-mail with any questions or comments.