“Our bodies are designed to move and our lifestyles have disabled that – leading us to becoming more and more sedentary,” said Sharon Sporman, Regional Executive Director Wellness/NIR at Franciscan Omni Health & Fitness noting that as we age, we lose muscle and bone mass along with flexibility and range of motion. “Movement is the medicine for that.”
And for moms, one of two good workout programs—Tabata and Zumba—provide the movements needed depending on age, size, and fitness level and athletic abilities
“Zumba is good for all ages because it can be high or low intensity,” said Jerry Janda, a exercise physiologist in the Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation program at Methodist Hospitals. “It incorporates martial arts movements as well as exercise movements like lunges and squats with lively Latin American music like salsa, merengue or pop. Zumba is something that can be done no matter what your fitness level, you just have to find the right class. It’s also social and fun and gets people out of the house.”
Tabata, on the other hand, is high intensity interval training (HIIT) comprised of exercises such as push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and sit-ups done with maximum effort in 20 second intervals with ten second resting periods lasting for a total of four minutes. Hey, one might ask, how hard can four minutes be?
“You wouldn’t guess that this is really going to work up a sweat but it does,” said Kelly Watts, an exercise physiologist at Ingalls Health Systems. “I wouldn’t recommend it for older moms in their 70s and up. I know someone in her 60s who does a lot of HIIT but I would imagine that anyone over 70 would want to keep the strength they have, not worked to get stronger and wouldn’t want to possibly injure themselves. But if you’re 50 and younger and in reasonably good shape, it can increase metabolism leading to weight loss as well as an increase core strength. And another plus about Tabata is you can do it in your house.”
According to Debi Pillarella, M.Ed. an ACE – Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach, & Advanced Fitness Specialist and Program Manager at The Community Hospital Fitness Pointe, with the right instructor, a Tabata program can be modified to meet the needs of the individual.
“I’m a 53 year old mom and love Tabata training because it is time sensitive and very efficient, however, I need to make modifications based on my fitness and health level,” she said. “For example, instead of doing burpees with knee tuck jumps, I’ll do a burpee modification with alternating knee lifts. I still get the physical challenge, but at my own level. Tabata training, however, is not for everyone. Newbies to exercise should heed caution, as this type of training requires the intensity to be extremely challenging which could put a new exerciser at risk for injury. Even for the experienced exerciser, if you’re not used to participating in higher impact activities such as jumping or bounding, you may need to work your way up to the type of intensity and durations that Tabata training requires. Finally, Tabata training needs a complete warm up and cool down period to allow your body the time it needs to prepare and then recover.”
But healthy exercise goes beyond time spent doing Tabata or Zumba said Sporman. It’s also important to make such conscious decisions as climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking instead of riding when possible and, she says with a laugh, not wasting time and gas driving around a lot looking for the closest parking space when you’re going to exercise class.
“I see that all the time,” she said. “It’s also about being active 90 plus hours per week. Energy begets energy.”
As an example, Sporman mentions her own mother who died last year at age 91.
“She never exercised but she was active working full time, gardened a large garden, helped farm, and mowed her own yard which was approximately one acre,” said Sporman. “She only ‘worked out’ after 87 when in physical therapy after a fall because her musculoskeletal remained strong despite injuries and that was because she was active.”
Whether it's Tabata, Zumba or keeping up with the garden, staying active is one of the keys to leading a long and healthy life.