The OlderBeast philosophy seeks fitness, wellness, and feeling “whole” for the 2nd half of life. We want to feel great, look pretty good for our age, keep getting happier, and live long. But everybody wants that. The question is, who has a sustainable approach to get there, and stay there?
We should have exciting goals to pursue over months and years (run a half-marathon…hike the John Muir trail…cycle 100 miles…rock a headstand on the yoga mat…do 75 push-ups…swim a mile, etc.). But on the path to those, our lives and quests play out day-by-day.
I’m nearing 50. If I live to 90 (knock wood), that’s 14,600 more days. While days off are important as we age, for most of those days I should be physical – and seek physicality’s gifts to tranquility of spirit. So, how should I use my days – how should you use your days – in a purposeful way?
Google “fitness plan.” You’ll find endless links, many to great stuff from smart, experienced people (OlderBeast’s links section points to some). But most plans are so specific and regimented that they’re hard to follow in real life – For Week 1, I do this Monday, this Tuesday, then starting Week 2 do this, etc. It’s hard to live that way, for reasons both logistical and psychological. Am I going to follow someone else’s exact plan for 14,600 days? No way.
Over the course of years and via informal trial and error, I came to realize it’s much more sustainable to not be overly regimented…to have general activity types and benefits you seek, and keep any given week’s or season’s activity flexible based on circumstances and what you’re feeling.
So, let’s start with more of a flexible CHECKLIST than a “plan.”
OlderBeast™ weekly fitness checklist. This week, will I…
⇒ Get at least two cardio sessions of 30+ minutes? Three or four is better, but if you’re active other days, you’ll get some lower-grade cardio from that, too.
⇒ Work core and upper body muscles at least twice? Focus here is the waist up, since most cardio works legs in some way; ideally, also get some leg strength work to ensure balance for leg muscles.
⇒ Swim or do a yoga practice? These provide benefits of “controlled breathing” like nothing else, and are low impact.
⇒ Take one or two walks, or otherwise ensure I get outdoors for 30+ minutes?
⇒ Work on flexibility alongside these other activities?
Some activities check multiple boxes. So, this could equate to as few as four days (e.g. a run, a swim, and two strength-oriented sessions). Or, it could be six days if each item drives its own activity. Also, you can do two activities on the same day – just get them done, man. Example: a 30-minute+ run and a 20-30 minute calisthenics routine would check two boxes. But if you’re doing these combo days (I try to), make sure you’re still active at least four days a week.
Spread out workouts so you’re not taking two days in a row completely off (or only rarely – occasionally two days off is what the doctor ordered). Or use combo days to move up to three cardio sessions…a swim AND a yoga practice…a leg strength day, etc. For many of us, a five or six day-per-week, consciously varied plan is ideal.
Here are some example weekly plans based on this checklist of core principles. But as you’ve seen, the key idea is to have a checklist in mind and make your own, circumstance-driven plan each week. Get to it, brother.
“I wasn’t born to follow.” (The Byrds, Wasn’t Born to Follow – click to listen)