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Older, smarter and stronger

Fitness trainer Dean Hodgkin.

I read an interesting newspaper article the other day, concerning fitness trainer Dean Hodgkin (pictured), who promotes a training regime designed to build strength, flexibility and fitness as we age.

Dean Hodgkin, 57, a former karate World Champion, has worked in the industry since 1985, and advocates total body workouts that focus on balance, strength and coordination.

According to Hodgkin in the article above, "Regular exercise can not only prevent the negative changes we associate with ageing but may also reverse them.”

Hodgkin, heads-up programming for the fitness and TV>FIT wellness application TRUCONNECT where he is responsible for delivering workouts which help people of all ages maintain an active lifestyle.

“The older exerciser is more likely to want to exercise in the comfort of their own home and the desired goals are more likely to be the ability to carry groceries, being able to stand up from a chair without emitting a groan and having the energy take the family pooch on a walk to the park,” argues Hodgkin and he is, in my opinion, absolutely right about that.

Hodgkin also highlights the challenge of maintaining strength and fitness as we age. "Muscle tissue is lost at 5 per cent each decade, resulting in a 1.5 per cent decrease in strength every year and a lowering in metabolic rate, leading to weight gain,” he says. "Additionally, after age 35, bone mass decreases around 1 per cent per year for women but this accelerates to around 3 per cent post-menopause, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.”

He goes on in the article to say that "Strength training exercises will not only maintain muscle tissue and bone density but can actually increase both.”

I could not agree more with Hodgkin’s argument here. In my opinion, as a personal trainer, the objective is to train people to get stronger (or to maintain their strength), to become smarter and more agile as they move forward, and thus to maintain their independence. This is especially important in the modern era when the emphasis is very much on living a full and active life for as long as possible.

In this context, our mental agility is just as important as our physical strength, as we need to continue to think quickly, to act promptly as required, and to maintain our full brain facility. As such, physical training, when focused on combination exercises, as well as balancing strength and coordination at a challenging level of intensity, is key to delivering these gains.

Training should thus be adapted to the brain function of the person training. It should stimulate and balance physical exertion with cognitive demands. Or, to put it another way, training is as much a gymnastic exercise for the brain as it is for the body!

Check out what Dean Hodgkin has to say about training and for more on this topic.


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