Support for us older gals who are still traveling on their fitness journey

Shello
Member

Anyone else feeling like there is a lack of support for older women who are still active in their fitness journey? For example...I hurt my back the other day doing a difficult Pilates move. I left my session not only in physical discomfort but in a low mental state. I was upset that I couldn’t keep up with the younger gals and feeling a bit betrayed by my body. 2 days later and my back is still sore and I’m unable to go to class. I’ve never been 55 year old so this part of my journey is new to me. So I guess my question is, “how do you keep fighting the good fight when your body and mind are ganging up on you?” 

28 REPLIES 28

NillaMarie
Member

Hi @Shello, my body has drastically changed in the weight department, and a lot of the things I could do, I can’t anymore. I would get so frustrated, but I realized my body is trying to tell me something (aka listen!). Instead of thinking my body is against me, I realized I’ve been against my body. I’ve been slowing down and trying to make sure my body responds positively to workouts or foods I eat. So maybe you just have to adjust to this “new you” and take some time to do what works for your body at this stage in your life! 

LJohn
Member

Hi Shello,

So first, congrats on even being able to attempt a difficult Pilates move!  I do Pilates as well and there are some moves I probably couldn't have done even while I was in my 20s.  There are times my back hurts after a class because I'm not keeping my back flat during supine arms or leg lifts.  My trick (for what its worth): I'm learning to listen to my body as it is today and I pull back when it feels to be too much.  Its a journey and there are ebbs and flows.  I had been doing Pilates 4 days a week but had to pull back to half that due to other obligations.  I know I'll feel it a bit more when I (hopefully soon!) go back to 4 days and that doesn't even have to do with age (40s)!  Please be kind to yourself, listen to your body and definitely ask your instructor for help!  They go through extensive training to help with exactly what you're going through, both the physical and mental components.  Stay well my fellow Pilates PlankSTAR!

asparling1986
Community Manager
Community Manager

@Chris_F @Leada_M  - feel like you two would have great insight here given you background and expertise. 

hilbeth
Member

I'm well into my sixties now and yes, still traveling on my fitness journey. With all the injuries I sustained by exercising incorrectly over the years, it's amazing that I'm still in relatively decent shape! First, a good instructor will always give you modifications. It is always better to back up a bit and use those modifications to build strength before mimicking everything the instructor is doing. Second, stretching is your friend. Many people think because stretching takes time and doesn't burn many calories, it's not worth the effort. It absolutely is! Spend a minimum of 15 after your workouts on hip, hamstring and leg stretches. They help to release your lower back. You'll benefit from increased flexibility, less lower back pain and reduced recovery time if you do strain yourself. Of course, stretching is incremental and takes months and patience, but it is well worth your effort!

joaniemac
Member
As we age we just keep in the race and be grateful for all the things we can still do. I am 69 and love staying fit. I still have some aches and pains, but not enough to stop me. Most of all be kind to yourself and others.

Leada_M
Guide
Guide

@asparling1986 Thank you for looping me in! 

 

Hi @Shello, I'm Leada, your physical therapy guide! Thank you for sharing your story. What you said is something I see so frequently in clinic. As we age, we have natural changes that occur within the body. Sometimes this doesn't quite match up with the activity that still needs a certain amount of strength and mobility. SO natrually, our body's let us know when something doesn't feel right. And it's a fabulous alarm system in doing so. Now, it's important to know that pain doesn't always mean there's been an injury, per se. But it is a sign that your body may have preferred a different movement in that moment in time (depending on lots of things like position, fatigue, even down to your stress levels that day!)

 

For example, those with stenotic changes in the spine (normal loss in space around things like nerves in the low back) might be sensitive to lumbar extension [although not all the time]. So doing a pilates move that maybe puts just a little strain in that direction could be enough to set off that little alarm. However, it doesn't mean you should avoid that (or whichever movement) forever. It just means it's time to pay attention to certain muscles, technique, exercise modifications, etc that are bet suited for you. Most of all, believe in how resilient your body is. (Because it is!)  That way you can still do all the things you love with a maintenance plan that keeps you ready for it! As a side note, strength training is something that can still greatly benefit us as we get older! It doesn't get as much love because some believe the benefits are minimal, but they are SO very real!

 

My last piece of advice would be to see a physical therapist if you have any nagging discomfort or pain. We can take a look at how regions are moving and articulating with each other and set you up with a few exercises that are best suited for you and your goals.. and you can keep those in your back pocket to use and reduce chance of injury! 

Hi Leada,

I enjoyed reading your answer, especially the part about strength training as we age. Can you share some simple strength training exercises or talk more about this in an upcoming article?

@kim thank you for telling me! Yes actually, October's theme will be all about healthy aging with my content. I will be share to post some information geared towards this! Stay tuned 🙂 

JoyP
Member

It’s an ongoing battle! Accept the challenges, alterations and modifications to exercise and routine and keep on keeping on. I turn 60 next year. My two youngest children (adults) are finishing up college, and I am free to take care of me! When your body responds with an unexpected hitch, it won’t last. Take care of you!

@JoyP I love that you said to take care of your body when it responds -  this is a great habit I see in patients with the quickest turnaround from pain!

DebbieJ
Member

Hi, Shello.  First take a look at the excellent comments from Hilbeth below.  So easy to forget stretching!  Then I like the mantra of Rutgers to "Keep Chopping!"  See link.  The mantra was given to me by my physical therapist who had been helping me with shoulder pain.....to keep going!  Don't give up...give yourself time to recover, then get back at it!  Ignore the politics part - just see the mantra.  https://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/2019/12/rutgers-greg-schiano-reintroduces-the-chop-and-pat-hobbs-...    It is never too late!  We are all here for you to keep you going!  🙂

Vixie12
Member

Hi @Shello , as others have mentioned, please give yourself grace! Ask for modifications, give yourself more time to rest/recover, and try a variety of different exercise modalities. At least you are moving and staying active. That is the most important part!

DrSues
Member

My advice to you is to embrace what you can do, rejoice in that.  When you feel a tweek make a mental not of “ok, got to work on the abs more, or ok, not that far today”. And embrace that you are supporting your body with all that you do.  Teach the young girls that they have this to look forward to and can stay active. Encourage the young girls to appreciate where they are in life and know that it only gets better!  

PAH555
Member

Hi Shello, I am new to this space.  I am 63, and I am still following a rambling path to fitness.  I retired about 8 years ago and took up running.  I got hooked, fell in love with being outdoors and running.  But I admit,  I was negligent in my pre and post running habits and alas after a few years had to hang up running because of awful hip pain.  A friend introduced me to spinning (indoor cycling classes) and moved my love to spinning.  The cardio was almost as good as running.  Over the course of the last few years I did learn that power of stretching and strength training.  Even though I still have trouble getting as excited over my off cardio days when I am focused on strength, I have learned to love stretching and have been pain and injury free for a few years.  I gave myself a Peloton for my 60th and took up Power Zone Training, which is a simple way of saying that I train at my level, against myself and I can track and measure my improvements.  At the end of the day, I am the only one I need to beat, me now, not me 10 years ago.  And on a happy note, I have taken up running again, ... well runs that are 50% running and 50% walking but I feel like a champion each time I do it.  I really thought I had to quit running and now it looks like if I take this slow, I just might be able to incorporate a little running again.  Hang in there and keep working at it, slowly, and stretch... and then stretch again.  Good luck. 

nam
Member

Hi, @Shello.

 

I will admit to feeling the same way at times. I just turned 60 this summer, and while I still run, cycle, practice yoga, play tennis, and hike, my game has definitely changed as I've gotten older. Let me be clear--that is not a bad thing!  

 

In addition to the above, I am also a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 46, and there's nothing like a cancer scare to make you appreciate your health, your body, and the opportunity to wake up each morning. I have come to believe that health crises like this are messages from our bodies and psyches that we need to make some kind of change. In a way, the messages we get as we age (like our body aches and pains) are small reminders that serve similar purposes. 

 

As we get older, our bodies communicate with us so that we can make needed adjustments and provide nurturance and support.  Our bodies are not our enemies; they are communicating their needs so that we can care for them and keep them healthy. There is no need to punish them for this. Would you punish a friend who asked you for help? Maybe it's time to befriend your body  rather than fighting against its inevitable evolution?

 

I have practiced yoga for over 25 years and work as a yoga therapist. I promise you that my regular home practice does not look like it did in my thirties and forties. Funny thing is that my life looks nothing like it did then either. We all change and evolve with age.  As I have changed, so has my practice, and I feel better about my body than ever did when I was younger, in spite of all the scars I've accumulated along the way. 

 

Get out there and enjoy yourself and your body in any way you can. Seek out groups of likeminded women in your age group. I have found that a lot of my friends no longer exercise as much any more, so I've found new groups to work out with while still retaining my older friendships. Camaraderie helps and establishing mutual support is essential to staying engaged and happyas we get older.

 

You've never been 55 before, and you will never be 55 again. Do your best not to be concerned about what other (younger) people are doing, and focus on being the best 55-year-old you can be today.

 

😘

 

 

Crankin
Member

You don't need to stop doing what you love, but you do need to approach it differently. Of all the responses I've seen here, the one from the PT stands out. I am about to turn 68; I am a cyclist, a hiker, a nordic skier, and snow shoer. I do boot camp 2x a week, yoga, and I walk. I also have the normal stenotic and disc related degenerative stuff Leada mentioned. But, I religiously stretch, using the exercises my PT prescribed almost 5 years ago. I have always needed along warm up, even in my 20s, so now I warm up even longer. For example, before boot camp, I walk on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes before the 15 minute warm up in class.  Also, sleep. That's when your body repairs itself. I have to be more rigorous with my nutrition. That doesn't mean I eat grass, but I plan my meals, and take into account when I am going out to eat and how much I am moving.

Be careful with Pilates. I have never been able to do it, because it hurts my back. Yoga is better for me. But, I still have to be careful with twists. I don't run, either.  And beware of instructors who don't provide modifications. 

Get outside!! You won't regret it.

 

Thank you so much for your insight @Crankin ! I definitely have heard a story like yours - and its awesome to hear you have a good hold on understanding things that feel good for your body!

drmj
Member

Hello Shello,

I am 63 and I am a Master Pilates Teacher.  I hear what you're saying. The fact is, our bodies DO change and our task is to discover how we can be active while at the same time honoring those changes. 

I'm sorry to hear you were injured in a Pilates class.  You're also right that trying to keep up with someone else in class can certainly take us all down. And that's the hard part - right? We really have to learn to listen to what our bodies need and honor THAT.  My suggestion, if you're still loving Pilates, is to have a private conversation with your teacher about what's going on with your body and your feelings. Your teacher should be able to offer you options that are better choices for you. It could be as simple as changing the resistance or shortening a lever.

I encourage you to breathe into your confidence and to keep moving  - mindfully. 🙂

take good care

drmj

jmdolan
Member

Get your mind & body in sync by setting goals that are achievable & realistic.  I started my personal improvement journey at 50 when I was 50lbs over weight & out of shape.  Be tough on yourself, take your time & stick to your goals. 
In classes with younger people or a tough instructor, set your own pace that works for you.  Establish a dialogue with instructors for help on form or pace - most are glad to share & help.

Don’t let your head get in the way of your body - it’s hard work but you’ll feel better after every workout!!  And be sure to include stretching & rolling - it makes a HUGH difference as you age. 
I’m 65 now & 60 lbs lighter, size 6 & working out 6 days a week.  Don’t fall for age trap - age is a state of mind !!  I’m 35 now - 😜

 

Gretchensb
Member

I’m 49 and have been an athlete plans or worked out my whole life. Running weight training etc.  at 47 my legs quit on me!  I could still lift but running was impossible.  The hardest part was giving myself permission to slow down and figured out my next step. It was really hard!!! I come from a “suck it up, rub some dirt on it” I had a lot of conversations with myself.  I had run for years.  But wasn’t kind to my aging body.  I took a year off of running!!! It was so hard at first I felt guilty.  I still lifted and decided to add yoga to help heal my body.  Even turned my oldest sons old bedroom into my yoga room.  Now a year later I still have to give my self permission to chill out, but I am back to running but only two days a week.  Lifting 2 days  and yoga 2 days.  Walk the dog everyday cause she’s a 1 year old chocolate lab and well she’s needs it more than me!  So in the end my best advice is give your self permission to modify what you do, give yourself variety.  And yeah it sucks that the youngsters seem to run laps around us but we’ve also paid our dues to slow down and actually enjoy the work we are doing. I work out with girls 10 and 20 years younger than me, after workout they go home to children a messy house and more chores.  I go home to a clean house and a glass of wine 😊.  Hope my very overly lengthy response was helpful.

Fifi
Member

Hey Shello,

I completely feel your pain (back and otherwise)!  What I have discovered is that pushing myself like I’m still 30 is no longer appealing and not what my body is asking for.  Moderate is just the right fit at this age.  I can still do all the things I used to do but lack of estrogen means I can no longer recover like I used to.  So......take it a bit gentler.  Go for the long, slow walk instead of that power walk.  Do a little stretching to stave off stiffness.  You can still do Pilates but you don’t need to push yourself.  You have already earned your age.  Now your body is telling you it’s time to try a different approach.  Your body isn’t betraying you.  It’s just asking for a different kind of love.

If you have a spare moment you can look up Pahla B at Pahlabfitness.com.  She also has a YouTube channel.  You may just like what she has to say 

YogaMom88
Member

As my body changes, I find it oddly gratifying that moves and poses that I used to do without thinking, now require a level of mindfulness that keeps me very present in my practice. I get more out of my workouts now than I used to because they require more of me. I could get frustrated about my reduced mobility or I can be grateful my practice continues to meet my needs in new and unexpected ways. I realize you may have been looking for more of a physical-based reply and I went in a more mental direction, but I’m glad you brought up this topic. 

Sooz223
Member

There is most definitely a lack of support for older women who continue to be active. I continue to weight train but only to maintain as I don't won't to injure myself and it takes longer for use to heal/recuperate. In some classes, I stay in the back and go at my best pace. I don't try to keep up the younger people. I also practice yoga and ride a road bike. I guess you could also research fitness groups based on age, i.e., there is a group of bike riders you could connect with, etc.

BeckyR
Member

Hi, Hello--Congrats on still exercising! But please gear it to. your 55 yr old body, not a 40 year old one. I am 65 and have rheumatoid arthritis. I do a Barre class and a workout with 2 other women weekly, but I am not able to do what I did when I was younger. Also, I do a yoga class (had to give up one which was harder due to my RA) and I walk the dog. I only go to places which are happy to have me there and which make me feel happier when I leave. I suggest you try to find a new Pilates class with mostly women your age. And please try to give yourself a break! You don't really need to get in better shape, you just need to maintain the shape you are in. Have fun!

fitbytracey
Member

Hi Shello,

I'm 52 and been a fitness trainer/instructor for 33 years.  I've had 7 orthopedic surgeries. The answer to your question is this, you don't fight anything. You need to embrace all of the changes with an open heart. Do your best to think of yourself as old, you are NOT! If you feel old your body will act old. You need to cherish the incredible machine that your body is and find things that feel good. If you hurt yourself in pilates that was your body telling you "back off this one" and you listened! There is always a reason for everything, trust it.  Trust the universe and the message it's sending you via your body, this forum, people you encounter that make you feel like it was meant to be.  It's all an amazing journey and if you approach fitness that way with love and respect for your body, your body will comply.  Do your best to not let your mind take over.  Listen to your gut, not your mind. Your mind will always tell you you can't do something but your gut will always support you. Listen/watch this video with Oprah and Deepak Chopra called "Aging is a Mistake" it speaks to exactly what you are saying, hopefully, it will help you! Good luck! 😉  https://www.oprah.com/own-oprahshow/deepak-chopra-aging-is-a-mistake-video

 

Great video, Tracey!  Thanks for sharing it!

Thank you for the link @fitbytracey! I'm feeling so inspired by all these women here - looks like we found some support for this group of ambitious women afterall! 

To keep fighting the good fight you need to rehydrate your connective tissue.  Repetitive movements, aging all combine to dehydrate the fascia that supports everything else in your body.  Just drinking water is a good start, but if you add MELT, soft massage and stimulation of the fibroblasts that create hylauronic acid, collagen and elastin, with soft balls and a soft MELT roller, you will go a long way to keep your body moving with less ache and wear/tear.