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There are hundreds and maybe thousands of physical fitness guru’s all claiming to have the perfect answer, the “magic bullet” for physical fitness and a solution to a healthier body and lifestyle. Well, I’m not going to claim to have the perfect answer! However, I do have a few tips on an easy to use piece of exercise equipment that may be one of the best for all ages and is particularly suitable for those of us who are either baby boomers or a bit more seasoned. It’s the Bowflex… any version but a basic machine such as the Bowflex Sport is a perfect place to start.
So what’s the catch here? Absolutely no catch whatsoever….. just an enthusiasm to share some ideas on perhaps one of the most efficient, versatile and affordable exercise machines available for home use. The Bowflex combines aerobic and strength training with a smooth pulley and power rod resistance system that’s easy set up. You can easily switch resistance with the power rods through a wide range of motions for a complete strength and aerobic workout. Now don’t get me wrong on the expected results. The Bowflex ads show smiling, well muscled young people whom we all would like to look like, no matter what age. Well, now you may just want to get back some muscle tone and some of that past strength and endurance you once had. At any rate, here we are at 55, 60, 65 or older and card carrying members of AARP. Most of us simply want to maintain or improve our strength, muscle tone and respiratory efficiency. Today many doctors and physical fitness experts are espousing weight training and especially the use of free weights as we age. Everyone now acknowledges that maintaining and / or building our strength is critical in later years. We will certainly function with greater confidence and renewed strength but we will also be less likely to fall and if we do, less likely to suffer fractures since strength training adds to our bone mass. What we don’t hear talked about too frequently is the potential of injury with free weights if not properly supervised. Added to the injury possibility, there is also the need for other pieces of equipment such as various benches and supports in order to get a full range of activity with free weights.
So, let’s talk about the Bowflex. Perhaps you’ve seen the infomercials and watched as the group of well muscled young men and women gathered around a Bowflex machine and marveled at how easy it works and the quality of the workout it provides. So, how does this apply to you…at 55, 60, 65 years or older?
First, you can safely use the Bowflex without needing a partner. However before staring a program check with your physician to insure that you have no physical ailments that would preclude vigorous exercise. The Bowflex is a home device and since it’s in your home, it’s available at anytime. I must caution you on the hype of “now you can use it anytime of your choosing”. That may be correct, but to be successful you must establish a set time every day for your workout. Once you start slipping or changing times, you run the very real danger of skipping days and then a week or more and then suddenly you have no set program and you’re back to being a couch potato.
The Bowflex machine comes with a very nice manual of exercises and instructions and most will also have an instructional DVD. Let’s walk through some Bowflex 101 in the real world and set some realistic goals and simple to follow instructions:
1. Maintain a set time schedule either daily or every other day. Many prefer early morning exercise routines so that it doesn’t get cancelled out later in the day by unexpected events…..or lost will power. Early workouts also tend to set a positive, go get ‘em attitude when those endorphins kick in from good prolonged vigorous exercise. Many experts say that the most effective time for the body to exercise is mid-afternoon and the least effective is at night. Working out late in the evening may also cause some sleep disruption.
2. Review the exercise manual that Bowflex provides but don’t become a slave to the described routines. While the programs were developed by experts, let your own sense of what’s working be your guide.
3. After reviewing the manual, establish your beginning program routine and stick to it for at least two full weeks or longer without deviation. Maintaining a consistent pattern will allow you to assess whether the program you’ve selected is comfortable for you and not too boring. It’s important to make the workout interesting as well as challenging. Boredom can lead to you dropping out so don’t let that happen!
4. Design your program to include aerobic as well as strength activities. While the Bowflex will greatly assist in developing strength, the aerobic exercises are terrific and important.
5. Start off with easy resistance power rods. Remember, this is going to be a lifestyle addition and not a quick fix so there is no reason to use too much weight resistance at the beginning. It is best to get comfortable with how the Bowflex operates using lower resistance and then gradually increase the weight / resistance.
6. Don’t feel compelled to “do the manual”. Select the exercises that work well with your strength and flexibility and rotate through them. Make sure, though, that you balance upper body, arms, legs and abdominals in your program.
7. Make sure you take advantage of the aerobic rowing motion. The seat glides easily and the resistance power rods and pulleys are exceptionally smooth in operation.
8. Be Creative! In a short time, you’ll be totally at ease and be able to handle any of the Bowflex routines. When that happens, you’re now ready to mix and match and create new routines on your own.
So, while this is an exercise machine for all ages, the Bowflex from my experience is exceptionally well suited for the great generation of Baby Boomers and beyond. It’s simplicity of set up, easy switching process from one exercise routine to another, wide range of weight resistance and easy fluid motion give this machine an A++ rating in my book!. While this is not an advertisement, you may want to check out the Bowflex website or other websites that offer exercise equipment. At any rate, get started on a healthier life style.
Be active, be healthy and be happy!
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