coach roland Craeye
I recently turned 45.
Luckily I've been taking increasingly better care of myself over recent years, so I don't fall into the category of people who are feeling their age. In fact, in my opinion 45 is the new 25. Sure, I've got some wrinkles in
my face now and a few gray hairs, but I feel great, perform as well as ever in most of my activities and I'm
not looking half bad either.
A few months ago, I began to write a book to celebrate my 45th birthday and to help those who have
perhaps let themselves go a bit in recent years. The book focuses on the topic of fitness over 45. I haven't
titled it yet, as it's a work in progress at the moment. For now, I named the manuscript FO45. My aim is to
publish in 2018, sooner than later.
I'm very well aware that many of us in our 40's and 50's, even 60's are very capable and still fit. In fact, the
strongest increase in sports participation in the past decade has been among the 45-54 age group. Some of us are athletes and playing sports at a high level. Yet, there are also those who have given up, or simply
don't believe they can reverse their situation. This program addresses the needs of both camps.
Becoming overweight is the greatest concern for the over-45s. In recent years, I noticed a shift towards a more mature client base. People realize they are unhealthy, they may have received unwelcome news on
their last medical visit; cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels are too high. Some also report
they believe that they look terrible in pictures.
Some of you may have doubts that you can still get in the best shape of your life. Well, I’m here to tell you
that you can, and I will prove it to you. One of my clients learned quickly that it wasn’t too late at 50 and
turned his life around, he since became a personal trainer.
People over 45 typically desire a complete lifestyle change; a program consisting of exercise, nutritional
advice, hormone-balancing and sleep-resetting. It is a $1.5 billion a year industry in the US alone. A recent study by the University of Chicago took a closer look at more than 3,000 people aged 57 to 85. The study,
part of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, supported by the National Institute on Aging of
the National Institutes of Health, showed that mobility and psychological health were the main factors in
predicting mortality. Participants' ages played virtually no role in determining differences in health and
wellbeing. Clearly, if you keep your body moving and you practice self-care, your quality of life is going to
improve dramatically as you age.
The physiological changes that occur in the body when it matures are mostly hormonal in nature and cause loss of muscle, reduction in bone quality and loss of functional capacity. These changes affect how you
move and how often. As we age, we also experience a reduction in maximal oxygen uptake. We are no
longer able to intake as much oxygen as we did in our younger years. As we get older the efficiency with
which the heart pumps blood throughout the body and the way both the heart and the muscles use oxygen in the blood, changes and becomes less efficient, which in turn affects sports performance.
None of these changes however are as dangerous as the changes we experience when we live a sedentary
lifestyle. Years of sitting down and eating a standard American diet will most likely result in compromised
gut health, lots of inflammation and prescribed medication. Tendons and muscle fascia also become stiffer, resulting in less flexibility. Inflexibility and inflammation creates a weak body, prone to injury and illness.
A well-planned exercise program can help reduce the risk of health conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer and even depression, to name a few. Exercising also improves your sex life, males can look forward to a higher sperm count and stronger erections, as exercise prevents plummeting
testosterone levels. Women who are physically active report greater sexual desire, arousal and
satisfaction than women who are sedentary. Physical activity, in particular strength training, can also
increase testosterone levels in both men and women. In moderation, this is a good thing for both sexes.
Being healthy, eating healthy and getting lean will give you the energy, mental clarity and focus to achieve
your other life goals, and you don’t need to live in the gym to achieve it. Start working on your health while you still have it. Once you are sick, the road will be much longer. Instead of waiting until you are unhealthy, start today and create an abundance of health.
Find your starting point. Experiment with movement, it is a progression. To be safe, find out what
limitations you may have when you start your program. Safety is number one, having fun is number two.
The best form of exercise is the one you enjoy the most. In the beginning, pick something you enjoy, to
create a healthy habit. Don’t settle for old stereotypes, be creative.
You can feel energized and fit doing simple exercises in the privacy of your own home. Maybe you’d prefer
the gym, bike rides, hiking, or an activity like boxing or dancing. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll
need to start slowly and work your way up to more heart pounding, challenging workouts or lifting heavy
weights if you want truly remarkable results. Don’t rush into things. Build up your fitness level slowly,
perhaps walking 20 to 40 minutes, three times a week.
If for example, you take up jogging, begin with 10 to 15 minutes and add a few minutes daily. When you find that jogging about a mile-and-a-half becomes easy, you can add intensity to the mix with a system known
as Fartlek training; also known as 'speed play'. Varying exercise with periods of intensity, for example;
adding 10 seconds of sprinting, followed by slowing down for a minute, can add an additional challenge
when repeated several times.
Be aware of any unusual symptoms that could suggest a strain on your cardiovascular system. If chest pain, nausea and breathlessness occur, stop and recover immediately. Increasing physical activity has enormous benefits in moderation, however too much of a good thing can put you at risk.
If you haven’t been exercising regularly, you may need to start with stability work; core stability as well as
glute strength, spinal flexibility and joint mobility. Stability programs are floor-based or body weight work such as planks, bridging exercises and many other variations. The main factor is to avoid seated machines.
After addressing stability with satisfactory results for several weeks, you’ll move to the next level, which is strength-building. Building strength requires a resistance training program. This type of program may use
cables, free weights or kettlebells, to name a few options.
Once strength has been sufficiently built, you can move to the next level and gradually explore more
explosive power movements using weights. Moving weight quickly increases risk of injury, therefore it is
important to hire an experienced coach and gradually increase intensity rather than going it alone and
jumping the gun. Warming up properly is always key to avoid muscle strain and should take up about 5 or
Some exercises, you may choose to avoid, especially in the beginning. Crunches can potentially be harmful on certain types of blood-pressure medication for example and can also cause injury to the discs, due to
repetitive spinal flexion. Stabilization is your friend, not flexion. If you’re a cardiac patient, you must visit
a cardiac rehab trained instructor before starting an exercise program. You should avoid floor exercises if
you’re on cardiac medication.
Fitness and fat loss is not rocket science, but it does take some will power, and the dedication to invest a
small amount of time, consistently. If you'd like some help getting motivated, I'm here to do just that with
my in-person or online coaching programs. Or you can simply sign up for my newsletter, so you'll know
when my book becomes available. In any case, reach out and let me know how I can support you.