Metabolic Fitness - "It's Never Too Late to Exercise"
There are many fallacies, misconceptions, and a great deal of misinformation found in the world of exercise and fitness. There are also many old, outdated ideas and beliefs. The many influencers and bloggers on social media and other outlets often only add to this vast confusion.
As a professional in the fitness industry I have heard the many, varied excuses for someone not to work out. My job as a personal trainer is to help spark someone into action. This often means I need to help someone make a “paradigm shift” and make a fundamental change in their underlying assumptions and approach to exercise.
This change can be achieved by sharing personal experience or by explaining fact, proven scientific knowledge and research. I can lead someone to water, plant the seed, encourage them to drink and grow, but ultimately it is up to the person to make the shift by taking action. To me the paradigm shift to aim for the training goal of metabolic fitness helps me lead people through the haze of confusing information and helps them to spring into action.
Why Metabolic Fitness
Rather than aiming for a specific weight, look, athletic feat or goal, I believe all people, regardless of age, should aim for metabolic fitness. Much too much time is spent worshiping the scale aiming for some perceived ideal weight, or trying to achieve a certain body mass index level (BMI). Many, in the end, find they have a difficult time maintaining or achieving both.
Fat stores energy. When you have high metabolic fitness there is an elevated use of fat at rest and during exercise. Trained muscles also increase the capacity and enhancement of glucose metabolism, which means higher energy levels. This should be your personal aim, instead of the perceived size and look of muscles.
Metabolically fit individuals don't have the metabolic or biochemical risk factors associated with obesity such as high LDL, cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high Triglycerides, elevated blood glucose, insulin resistance and high blood pressure. If these risk factors are at normal levels, a person is considered metabolically fit, even at an elevated (BMI) level or a perceived non-ideal scale weight. If someone is not metabolically fit and the risk factors are high, a person has an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, gout, hypertension, and other conditions.
You can help reduce these risk factors and help to bring them to more normal levels through modest weight loss (5-10% of initial body weight). This can be done by a small reduction in calorie intake, and moderate increase in physical exercise achieved through attainable goals, such as walking 30 minutes a day (not a half marathon), free weight machine or cable training for attaining trained muscles (not the Mr. or Ms. Olympia contest). You can also help achieve metabolic fitness by increasing normal physical activity levels. For example, a small lifestyle change could be taking the stairs and not the elevator, or parking in a lot or ramp and not using valet service.
It is never too late to exercise and make metabolic fitness a part of your style of living. We can all be “life” athletes, some of us just don't know it yet.
One of the main excuses or barriers to starting to work out is that “It is too late for me to start exercising, I am too old to exercise”. People say they can't exercise not because they physically would be unable to, but because they have made the decision that they can't mentally. They assume things like “Well I am 70 years old, and I can't lift that” or “I can't ski or go bike riding”. These are old, outdated ideas and beliefs.
Even people 100 years old or older can build muscle strength, says Dr. Edward Phillips, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. His colleague Dr. Jonathan Bean describes a 101 year old man who wanted to wheel his own wheelchair himself. He embarked on a weight training program and got to the point of using a walker. This far exceeded his original goal. This is a potent example that it is never too late to exercise.
Personally, as a man in his 50’s, I have made exercising and fitness an important part of my lifestyle. This began at age of 6 playing organized sports. Over the years I have consistently worked out. With age and added experience my workout has evolved over time in order to reach attainable goals. Now my goal is to be metabolically fit, and at age 56 I am.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a former client of mine in Las Vegas, Mary Ann, who was 76 years old at the time. She never played sports or worked out until our first session together. Her goal was to get through challenging airports with an impatient husband. She was frightened, frail, and refused to admit she was an athlete. 2 years of training with me with constant encouragement, she now flies through airports and is a lean, fit 78 year old woman.
Adding to the benefits of metabolic fitness, there are numerous other benefits of beginning to exercise at any age:
- Brain - Sharper thinking, learning and judgement skills
- Heart - Lower resting heart rate and reduced risk of heart disease
- Lungs - Greater lung capacity
- Weight - Increased metabolism and calories burned
- Muscles - Improved balance and reduced risk of falls
- Joints and Bones - Improved range of motion
- Energy Level - Better sleep, reduced fatigue
It is never too late to work out and exercise. Especially if we change our thinking to aim for working from inside to outside to become metabolically fit. Partnering with a fitness professional can be key to helping you to effectively set and reach attainable goals. The benefits of metabolic fitness are numerous and well worth it. Exercise is medicine!
Personal Trainer Robby Cordeiro was born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii. He resided in San Diego for 26 years and Las Vegas for the past 7 years. He moved to Rochester, MN in April 2022 to be near family. Robby’s interests include music, football, playing basketball and working out.
Contact Robby Cordeiro