Over the past few years, research has shown that endurance is not as important as strength to improve functional capacity in aging adults. One problem that plagues many elders (particularly females) is osteoporosis. You hear of many seniors falling and breaking bones - they can't even get up to call for help. Well, the sad reality is that their bones break first and then they fall! Weight-bearing exercise is crucial.

"There is evidence that resistance training brings about functional and metabolic adaptations that aid in the prevention of sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and obesity, and increases the functional capacity of elderly individuals." (Barbosa et al., 2002)

If you seek strength, use heavy weights for low reps with plenty of rest between sets. If body composition is your goal and you want to reduce some body fat, stick to a lighter weight for more repetitions but with a shorter rest interval. Don't overdo it though. Listen to your body. Sarcopenia, a condition where the muscles atrophy or waste at a rate of 6 pounds per decade after the age of 30, is another factor to consider. The following program will help build muscle mass.

A1) Back Squat
A2) Lying Leg Curl
B1) Bent-Over Row
B2) Close-Grip Bench Press
C1) Abdominal Crunch
C2) Standing Calf Raise

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with 60 seconds of rest between sets. Make sure to keep the movements slow and controlled. Perform the routine 3 times a week (every other day.)

Restoration in the form of massage, contrast (hot/cold) showers and baths, or some light cardiovascular exercise (such as walking) and stretching can be useful.

Lifestyle plays a crucial role. It goes without saying that recreational drugs, smoking and alcohol will play havoc on your body no matter what age you are. Sleep is important as well. Try to sleep before midnight (in fact, be in bed no later than 10:00 pm if possible) and wake up at the same time everyday. A short nap or two during the day is also beneficial.

What about nutrition? To start, most people need to clean up their diet by removing the processed and refined junk that fills their cabinets and fridge. That means no more cereal and juice for breakfast, or cold-cut sandwiches and pop for lunch, or pasta and wine for dinner. That also means sticking to the perimeter of the supermarket when shopping for groceries - forget the middle aisles!

Eat 4 or 5 small meals spread throughout the day and make sure you drink plenty of water. Dehydration is part of the process of aging. At birth, 85% of the body is made up of H20 ... by the time you die, it's 50%! When water stores are dropping, it indicates that something is wrong. Usually it reflects a breakdown of muscle tissue. So make sure you stay well hydrated by consuming .5 ounces of water per pound of body weight.

Here's a sample diet:

Meal 1 - Spinach omelet
Meal 2 - Chicken salad with a vinaigrette dressing
Meal 3 - Salmon with green vegetables
Meal 4 - Cottage cheese with mixed berries

You may have a cup of coffee (preferably organic, Swiss-process decaf) in the morning, but favor green tea in the afternoon and chamomile tea at night. Feel free to snack on raw nuts (in moderation, of course.)

As far as supplementation is concerned, the only one that I deem absolutely necessary is fish oil. Other than that a high-quality protein powder, probiotic (or friendly bacteria), and fiber supplement are worthy of consideration particularly following your workout (this would be your fifth meal if you follow the sample diet outlined above.) Even a multi vitamin/mineral is unnecessary if you are eating fresh, wholesome (again preferably organic) foods everyday.

Don't let Mother Nature take a toll on you without a fight. Collect your health with your pension and take action! Getting in shape does not have to be complicated. By following this simple plan, you should be able to reap the benefits of improved health at any age.

Author's Bio: 

John Paul Catanzaro, B.Sc., C.E.P., C.K. is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Certified Kinesiologist with a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private studio in Richmond Hill, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. For additional information, visit his website at www.BodyEssence.ca or call 905-780-9908.