Six Signs of Unmet Fitness Needs at 45+ (Reasons For Yoga — Yoga Challenge Week 6)

I confess. I’m not always as proactive and purposeful as OlderBeast articles make me sound. When it comes to 45+ men’s fitness, I’ve often just learned from injury-driven needs that motivated experimentation, or by simply lucking into things.

When I started yoga at age 46, it wasn’t because I’d thoughtfully concluded “hey, I have some ‘need yoga’ signs.” I started just because yoga’s a weekly part of the P90X home fitness program. Luck. (Online yoga classes are actually a great place to start – more on that at the conclusion of this article).

I see in retrospect that, as my 40s progressed, my fitness needs were changing. I had many of the “Need Yoga” signs, but I didn’t recognize them. Now, with regular yoga as part of my fitness routine, I’ve turned a lot of these “Need” categories into fitness and wellness positives.

My goal with this list is to help you do a self-assessment, and possibly reach a yoga conclusion sooner than I did (or if not, then at least “better late than never.”)

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I confess. I’m not always as proactive and purposeful as OlderBeast articles make me sound. When it comes to fitness, I’ve often just learned from injury-driven needs that motivated experimentation, or by simply lucking into things.

When I started yoga at age 46, it wasn’t because I’d thoughtfully concluded “hey, I have some ‘need yoga’ signs.” I started just because yoga’s a weekly part of the P90X home fitness program. Luck. (Online yoga classes are actually a great place to start – more on that at the conclusion of this article).

I see in retrospect that, as my 40s progressed, my fitness needs were changing. I had many of the “Need Yoga” signs, but I didn’t recognize them. Now, with regular yoga as part of my fitness routine, I’ve turned a lot of these “Need” categories into positives.

My goal with this list is to help you do a self-assessment, and possibly reach a yoga conclusion sooner than I did (or if not, then at least “better late than never.”)

SIX SIGNS YOU NEED YOGA

Got any of these “Need Yoga” signs? If you answer “yes” for one or more items, then I urge you to give yoga a try.

I don’t mean a big dramatic vow to do it super-often or forever. Just try it at least several times over a 6-12 weeks period and see if it’s for you. At the bottom of this article, I’ve pointed to a simple and practical way you can get going on this trial run.

1. You don’t get much Core work in your current workout routine.

By “core work,” I’m not just talking about a few crunches here and there, man. I mean substantial exercise of all the muscles – front, sides and back – that run from your upper legs to your lower chest. If you’re routinely doing various sit-up’s, planks, side bends, superman’s, leg lifts and twists…OK, fair enough. Skip to the next item. But if you’re not, yoga is a great way to bring all this into your fitness mix, without an extensive standalone “core routine.”

2. You’ve got nagging aches and pains in your back…or knee…or shoulders…or…etc.

We all feel those aches and pains and realize we’re not 25 anymore. The question is, what are you gonna do about them? Yoga is a way to rest aching body parts while still getting a workout. Even better, in many cases, yoga’s benefits help overcome the underlying weak areas or muscle imbalances that cause pain and injury. This has been documented for backs, shoulders and numerous other common problem areas.

3. You’re not very flexible…and it’s getting worse.

Yoga increases flexibility without dedicating extra time to a “stretching routine.” I’m not just talking about touching your toes, either. More importantly, yoga helps keep your spine limber. This impacts all facets of how you move. And how you look, too (let’s avoid that “stiff old guy” posture and way-of-walking for as long as possible, brother). Ironically, one objection to yoga many guys have is “I’m not flexible enough.” If someone told you, “I don’t do push-ups because my arms and chest aren’t strong enough”…wouldn’t you say that’s a reason to do push-ups? Same with yoga and flexibility.

4. You don’t have anything in your fitness routine that works on balance.

Sure, a lack of balance is dangerous once you’re elderly. But long before that, poor balance is a symptom that the smaller muscles at various points around your body – the ones that help you balance – are being under-used. If you’re losing your ability to balance, that’s the same as saying you’re getting weaker and less athletic, man. Probably more susceptible to injury, too. Sign me up for the opposite of that – it’s called yoga.

5. You know you need to work on all-over strength more.

Yeah, weights or body weight routines are great for strength. But…it takes a lot of dedication to get benefits all over your body. And, many runners, cyclists, or swimmers just don’t feel like doing the strength work (I’ve been in that camp before). Yoga works leg, core, back, shoulder and arm strength (not so much biceps, so do a few curls if you need to). It doesn’t build muscle size much, granted. But if you’re looking for a baseline level of functional strength…yoga is a great part of the solution. If “yoga” and “strength” seem like the two halves of an oxymoron – go try an advanced yoga class and then see if you feel the same way, macho man.

6. You’re not getting full stress management benefits from your current workout routine.

In the modern world, we all should welcome every bit of stress management help we can get. And research shows certain types of exercise are great at lowering stress – both the mental/emotional aspects of it, and in fact the underlying chemical causes of it. Yoga reduces stress hormones and increases feel-good ones, lowers blood pressure and pulse rate, and leaves you feeling refreshed. How many gym workouts or fast-paced fitness classes leave you feeling that way? Running and yoga are the two stress-management champs.

CONCLUSION

OK, time for some honesty with yourself. Do any of the six items above apply to you? Four years ago, I was pretty close to six-for-six (in a bad way). So why not give yoga a try for yourself?

Here’s a basic plan for how to give yoga a six-week trial in your life. It quickly summarizes “the case for why,” recommends a couple of yoga mats, and suggests options for starting with online yoga classes. Online classes from someplace like ManFlow Yoga, MyYogaWorks, Beachbody On-Demand, or Gaia Yoga are a great place to start, because they let you try and start learning without worrying about “how you’ll look” or “if it will be too weird” in a yoga studio.

After a while, you’ll be confident enough to progress to also try in-person classes at a studio, which also have major benefits including individualized instruction from an instructor who can see and guide you.

But now matter where you choose to start, if you take an inventory using this list and find an unmet need…well, starting meeting it, man. Give yoga a try as your way to do that.

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Endurance , Fitness Planning & Gear , Flexibility & Alternative Fitness , Philosophy & Motivation , Strength

I Experimentally Reduced Cardio in My Fitness Mix – Here’s What Happened

There are good reasons for cardio-intensive guys to move to a better mix of endurance/strength/flexibility in the fitness mix.

Overtraining on cardio – especially without super-disciplined rest and nutrition regimes – can wear down your body, contribute to muscle loss, and allow development of imbalances that make you more prone to injury.

Also, in our time-challenged lives, too much cardio usually implies too little strength and flexibility training. And maintaining muscle tone and staying limber are huge parts of looking and feeling our best, and maximizing longevity, as we move through life’s second half.

And one big concern about reducing cardio – gaining weight/fat – may be misplaced. Evidence is emerging that strength training (with at least a somewhat-intense cadence) burns fat as well as, or better than, cardio.

With these things in mind (but still needing to overcome a “cardio reduction paranoia” mental hurdle), here’s what I changed and what I learned.

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Challenges , Flexibility & Alternative Fitness

Something You Need for 2018: Your Next (or First) Yoga Mat

If you’ve been trying out yoga, you probably fall into one of two main camps when it comes to owning a yoga mat. (If you’re not aware of our Yoga Challenge and want to check that out for context, click on the “Yoga Challenge” link in the box to the left).

Maybe you ran out and bought one soon after your first class (the male stereotype is that we do love our gear, after all). Or, you might have figured you’ve got other stuff to worry about — like surviving challenging yoga practices — and using borrowed or rented mats seems fine for you.

In either case, if you’ve been stringing together some weeks of yoga and intend to continue in the new year, now’s a good time to think about a mat. Either your first one, or the one you wish you’d known to buy the first time around.

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask. What’s so great about the “right” mat? This is one of those things that’s best understood in the reverse. As in, what issues does the wrong mat bring? So let’s start off there — hopefully to motivate you, man. Then we’ll identify a number of mats that might have your name on them.

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Fitness Planning & Gear , Flexibility & Alternative Fitness

Owed to Yourself: 6-Week Plan for Guys to Give Yoga a Fair Shake

Among 40+ guys who don’t do yoga (which is to say, among most 40+ guys), I think there are three reactions when I tout yoga in OlderBeast articles.

1. Inspired to try it. Man, I hope there have been at least a few of these…please?

2. Tuning me out. Kind of like the grown-ups in the old Charlie Brown TV specials – blah blah-blah blah.

3. Feeling somewhat persuaded, and a little motivated. But not enough to overcome remaining hesitancy or inertia.

You in Reaction mode #3? If so, this is for you, dude.

Here’s a step-by-step, no-commitments way for you to figure out more about yoga, try it, and decide if it’s for you. This envisions a 4 to 6 week period, after which you can “fish or cut bait” on the whole topic of yoga and you. 

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Challenges

OlderBeast Fall 2017 HIIT Challenge: Week 1 Intro

Welcome to OlderBeast’s Fall 2017 High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Challenge.

The purpose of this and other challenges is to help inspire and support you in trying new fitness/nutrition approaches, in ways that “one-off” articles can’t do as well on their own. Every guy who undertakes this challenge can succeed, if he decides to. Really, it’s a challenge to your curiosity, willingness to be a “beginner” at something new, and determination to give something a fair trial to see if it might be part of your long-term game plan.

As the season unfolds, each week there will be updates such as OlderBeast-original content, curated “best-of” information and advice from gurus from around the web, expert interviews, and reviews of relevant products and services.

The rest of this post lays out this challenge/s specific goals, rationale, and detailed instructions for how to get started. Please consider yourself challenged, and read on!

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