EXERCISE FOR LIFE…

If we’ve learnt anything from the pandemic, it is that our health, above all, is the most important thing we have. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to ensure you stay healthy – both physically and mentally – for longer. Ballito biokineticist Nic Acampora shares some advice on moving your body through each stage of life.

As a biokineticist, Nic spends his days helping people, young and aging, optimise their bodies. “It is incredible to see what improvements can be made by following an exercise plan that’s suited to the individual’s age and skill level. Apart from physical improvements such as increased cardio-vascular fitness, increased musculo-skeletal strength, co-ordination and overall body awareness; people who make exercise a habit see improvements in their mental wellbeing too. Time and finances vary exponentially but I may be able provide guidance choosing exercise for your age-group.” Nic uses the analogy of being a home owner and the responsibilities associated with the building and upkeep of your home (your body). “It’s important to remember, though, that you are an individual and should listen to your body’s warning signals like niggles, pain and chronic fatigue.”

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First up, find the optimal building site and draft the plans (children, teens and young adults):
Exercise is essential for healthy development, not only physically but socially too. In today’s technological world kids are spending less time playing outdoors, exploring their body’s boundaries. At this age, the best exercise is anything that incorporates elements of play – body-weight, functional movements and proprioception challenges – even and especially for the ‘non-sporty’ children. Incorporate at least three sessions of 30 to 45min per week to improve co-ordination, self-confidence and physical ability. Make sure to keep activities fun and ever-changing to encourage continued participation.

Laying the foundation (in your 20’s)
These are foundational years to a long and prosperous active lifestyle. Here our bodies respond rapidly to new stimulus and improvements are easily seen, although, it’s also here where we feel ‘bulletproof, pushing our bodies to their maximum limits and treading the fine-line between performance and injury. Injuries impact our longevity, but fortunately, these bodies are resilient and forgiving and most people who experience set-backs stand a high chance of making complete recovery. Focus on establishing a balanced and consistent exercise regime, do things that you enjoy as well as those that challenge you. Take up a hobby that you can enjoy as you age such as running, swimming, cycling or a team sport. Supplement aerobic type exercise with a minimum of 2 to 3 45 minute to one-hour long strength training sessions per week. Focus on fundamental movements that build strength in your bones, muscles and joints.

Build from the ground up (30’s to 50’s)
During this wide-ranging period, the most common mistake made is trying to build up too quickly, especially if there’s been a long period of inactivity (anything more than six consecutive months). Instead of chasing times that you used to set as a 20-year-old, focus on building your training from the foundation up and you will see the long-term benefits. That said, you can teach an old dog new tricks! Find an activity you enjoy and make sure to read up or get some professional advice on how to do it. Download a running program or join a group fitness class – but be mindful of any previous or existing injuries and always seek your doctors’ approval if you have any serious conditions. It’s essential to include strength training into your routine – I’d go as far as saying it’s non-negotiable. Two to three sessions a week will help keep your frame structurally sound. As we age our supporting structures deteriorate and our bones, joints, muscles and connective tissue rely on weighed/resistance training to maintain their integrity.

Diligent maintenance (50 – 65)
If you’ve built a structurally sound home on a solid foundation, it is during this period where you’ll reap the rewards, whilst others suffer the aches and pains of in-activity you’ll be the one picked first for the team of family lawn sports. If you’re the one with aches and pains, it is possible to start living a better life today but take caution knowing that your body has gone through many years of neglect. Look to be physically active 3 to 4 times per week, starting slowly with 20-minute sessions and build from there. Be sure to include strength and proprioception work in your routine. Add outdoor activities such as walking to boost cardiovascular health.

Structural reinforcements (65 and older)
At this age focus on preserving what you have. Improving your muscular strength and co-ordination will improve your balance and reduce the risk of injury due to falling. A little, more often, goes a long way. Keep sessions short (15 to 30 minutes) and focused. Try to establish a daily routine, like a morning stretch or balance on one leg whilst brushing your teeth.

“I’ll leave you to consider this quote from Jim Rohn, ‘Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live’.”

Details: Nic Acampora, head biokineticist, SA Biokineticists Inc, IMF Ballito, 071 253 7668, [email protected]

Text: Leah Shone

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