OAF (old and fat) aerobics may sound oxymoronic but it is anything butt.
We bulging baby boomers likely neither look nor perform like the lean, mean exercise machines that once upon a time participated in the President’s Fitness Challenge but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to throw in the towel and watch our waste-lines expand like Hubble’s raisin pudding. I am a huge fan of physical maintenance and one of the cornerstones of self care is aerobic fitness. Knowing the importance of movement, I conscientiously strive for daily aerobic workouts.
The problem is that as I become, as CIC Donald J.Trump might say, “Huger,” performing aerobic workouts becomes more stressful on these old bones. What’s an OAF to do? Work it, baby.
Let’s start with a quick disclaimer and then move on to an elementary review of the four basic components of aerobic fitness.
Disclaimer number one- I am not a doctor, fitness instructor nor ex-Olympian. I’m just a 56 year-old OAF who got bit by the fitness bug back when James Earl Carter was el presidente de los Estados Unidos. I’ve logged over 185,000 miles cycling, participated in running races from a marathon down to countless 5-Ks and began doing triathlons while in my forties. The closest I come to book knowledge about exercise is the two college fitness classes I took and having a spouse who used to be a certified group fitness instructor. I’m just an old fatty sharing what I’ve learned and nothing I say should be deemed gospel.
The second, obvious caveat is that aerobic fitness is just one part of fitness. For goodness sake, do some strength and stretch exercises, eat properly, stay off drugs, get proper rest and see your doctor. And, while we’re at it, be sure to love your mama even if, like mine, she passed long ago.
OAF aerobic fitness has four basic cornerstones: Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Variety. Let’s quickly look at these.
Frequency: How often we exercise. (DUH!)
I try to get at least a little activity in daily but that is a personal preference. The CDC recommends a MINIMUM of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. That’s a bit over 20 minutes per day if you go every day. If your joints are up to it I’d strive for at least every-other-day workouts. In the quest for maximum health benefits there are upper limits to how much we should work out but if you are an OAF I highly doubt that you need to worry about too much exercise.
Bladdy, bladdy, bladdy- If you haven’t been exercising you should consult with a doctor and for goodness sake stop if you get dizzy and then call your fricking physician. OAFs are, by definition, old and fat. Use some dag-gone common sense!
Intensity: How hard we work.
How fast is your heart beating? How fast is your respiration? Are you gasping for breath? Seeing stars? Intensity matters. I tend to go moderate, not light, and throw in some higher intensity segments into the mix. Intervals, speed-play, fartleks, HIIT is all well and good but again, talk to your doctor if you’ve been sedentary.
Ideally you will mix easy days and hard workouts. Only going easy beats the daylights out of sitting on the couch and OAFs hitting each workout hard is a great way to injure ourselves. Mix it up, do some leisurely longer activities one day and then go short and hard the next.
Duration: How long we exercise.
While there is benefit to any movement it is best if you exercise long enough to gently and slowly raise your heart rate, maintain effort long enough to receive an aerobic benefit and then back off on your effort as a cool down. That twenty minute (MINIMUM!) routine doesn’t have to be continuous. It’s fine to do two ten minute segments so a brisk ten minute walk twice a day counts.
Longer workouts at a given effort burn more calorie and will give you a longer post-workout metabolic boost. Exercise in the morning (My preference, but I’m a freak.) will boost your metabolism throughout the day and twice daily workouts keeps metabolisms higher longer as well.
Variety: Choose to vary your workouts.
Once upon a time I ran fairly well but in that regard the years have not been kind to me. The mainstay of my aerobic workouts is cycling, followed by a fair amount of swimming and a once or twice a week short “run.” (Plod really.)
Even though there’s little I can do about the “O” part I’m waging a losing war against the “F” part of OAF. My goal is eight plus hours of aerobic exercise per week that I achieve through about six hours of cycling, two swimming and thirty or forty minutes of running.
I use the bike to do my long workouts, sometimes pumping away for 90 minutes at a time, sometimes using the bike for half hour interval sessions. I enjoy swimming and it supplements my little strength and stretch routine. I’m fortunate to have a pool in my backyard that I can use 24/7. Pretty much the only reason I run is so that I can run. My ex-group fitness instructor wife pushes me to do running races and triathlons with her so if I want to keep up with my golden girl I gotta do a little running.
It doesn’t really matter what activities we do but we must do activities. Find some things you enjoy and pursue them. Plan your days around a little activity and you’ll be far more likely to be active. We ain’t never gonna be young again but through perseverance we can at least enjoy our selves despite our seemingly universally expanding mid sections.