Men’s Health Matters: Yes, You Can Be a Lifelong Athlete
Are you approaching midlife or your “golden years,” but are still interested in working out? Not sure what makes up a “good” workout? Do you have what it takes to complete a workout and stay injury-free?
Take the advice of two of Crozer-Keystone Health System’s top orthopedic surgeons to learn how you can compliment a strong workout with healthy eating, whether you are trying to trim some fat or put on muscle.
Nicholas DiNubile, M.D., chief of the Section of Orthopedic Surgery at DelawareCountyMemorialHospital, says that one of the biggest parts of your success in reaching optimal fitness is eating right. “Eating right is essential in preparing and recovering from a hard workout, so why cheat yourself with the wrong nutritional approach?” DiNubile says. “A Mediterranean diet is a good example of a diet that is filled with omega-3 as well as numerous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that can be found in a variety of different fishes.”
Frank Giammattei, M.D., chief of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at Crozer-ChesterMedicalCenter, says that there are some good fats, including olive oil. Avoid processed foods in favor of higher quality foods that produce an anti-inflammatory response on the body. Remember, you do not want to sabotage a good workout with poor eating habits. “When strengthening and building muscles, do not forget that protein serves an important purpose in the process,” Giammattei says.
Creating muscle and trimming fat are some of your other workout goals. “In the second half of a man’s life, he is not going to build muscle well,” DiNubile says. “You do not have high levels of androgenic hormones, like testosterone, that you have as a young man, so you must realize that your workout should be more about weight control rather than how much weight and reps you can handle.”
Slow, controlled reps are the best ways to exercise without injuring yourself, so never sacrifice form for the amount of weight you lift. You should be working yourself to fatigue through your last couple of reps. DiNubile points out that you also need to train smarter. “Your body has changed and is more vulnerable, so you often need customized workouts to account for your weak links,” he says.
Giammattei adds, “When trying to build muscle or lose weight, strengthening should be divided into thirds: 1/3 upper extremity, 1/3 core, and 1/3 lower extremity, to ensure that nothing is left out.” Many men seem to focus more on what they see in the mirror. A challenge for you is balancing your workout leaving no muscle untouched so that you do not create an imbalance.
DiNubile states that “balancing your workout helps with weight control. Having more muscle on your frame raises your metabolic rate, which helps you burn calories all day long- so it is critical for weight control as well.”
If you are looking to lose weight, you should be doing longer aerobic workouts that are more low-impact. DiNubile suggests that you should not go out running if you are carrying extra weight. You need to be in shape to run rather than running to get in shape. Be patient with weight loss because your body tends to lose water first, then muscle, and then weight. If you work muscles in-between your diet and aerobic workout, you will increase your metabolism which helps you cut the fat. You will also preserve lean muscle tissue rather than losing it during weight loss.
Giammattei believes that whether you are trying to build muscle or lose fat, you should design a consistent workout plan for yourself whether it involves strengthening, stretching, or aerobic activity. His suggestion is to stay away from pounding exercises, such as running and move toward better activities like swimming, walking, and elliptical machines. These machines share the same results as running but are gentler on the joints.
“Working up gradually in your workout plan will steer you further away from possible injury,” Giammattei says. “If you feel any pain other than your regular ache, then I suggest seeing a specialist.”
Remember to contact a physician before starting an exercise program. For more information or a referral to a Crozer-Keystone orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine physician, call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit the website.
The Healthplex® Sports Club, located next to Springfield Hospital, offers a range of programs to help men and women of all ages meet their fitness goals. The club’s experienced, educated trainers can help design a program that’s right for you. For more information, visit the Healthplex® website or call 610-328-8888. Crozer-Keystone employees are eligible for membership discounts!