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Train for longevity and to maintain functionality

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When we talk about longevity, we are not just speaking on the quantity of life but also on the quality.

Longevity encompasses our ability to move functionally throughout our lifetime. Ideally, we would want to be 80-years-old and still doing triathlons and hitting PR's. At the very least, we want to maintain our independence in seemingly simple tasks like carrying shopping, getting on and off the toilet, and playing with our kids/grandkids. Below, we have highlighted some training principles that aid in longevity:

1. Strength training

There are many benefits to strength training at all stages of life. As we age, the development and maintenance of muscle mass become even more critical in counteracting illness, maintaining bone density, preventing falls, decreasing the rate of neuromuscular and balance deterioration, and improving overall well-being.

2. Avoid stress overload and overtraining

It is essential to consider that exercise is a stressor that is perceived by the body the same way as the other stressors in our life. These outside stressors (financial, professional, physical, emotional) tend to be present in more significant amounts in adults, as most people have greater responsibilities during adulthood than during adolescence. From a physical standpoint and also due to these psychological stressors, most people will not be able to sustain the same volumes of exercise at 50-years-old that they sustained as a 20-year-old athlete. Therefore, when training for longevity, the intensity and frequency of sessions must be gauged with this in mind.

3. Emphasise mobility/working range of motion through all joints

In addition to resistance training coupled with adequate recovery periods, mobility is an aspect of training that must be prioritised. Data has also shown that in terms of mobility, shoulder, trunk, and hip mobility, start to decline the most rapidly in the fourth and fifth decades of life. Because movement in these areas is critical for independence and functionality, mobility and strength through these areas must be emphasised and incorporated more heavily in training programmes as we age.

4. Focus in on the hips

Do movements, preferably loaded ones, that involve some sort of hip hinge. This will translate into simple tasks we don’t think about like getting up off the ground and going from seated to standing and vice versa. This movement is critical for effortless tasks like bending over to tie our shoes, so this “hip hinge” pattern of movement should be trained often to ensure functionality throughout our lifetimes. Movements like the deadlift, kettlebell swing, and good mornings are exercises that work the hip hinge and require little technicality, while also translating seamlessly into daily movement patterns outside of the gym.

5. Move things

Think: pushes, pulls, carries. These types of movements mimic the activities we do daily while simultaneously working midline stability (our core), muscular strength, and cardiovascular endurance. Farmers carry, prowler pushes, and sled work are great examples of these movements.

Moving things from Point A to Point B is arguably one of most valuable indicators of functional movement and health, so training this in the gym is a valuable asset in terms of longevity. Think about walking: this is simple displacement but it is one of the first things to deteriorate as we age. Studies have shown that 31.7% of adults over the age of 65 report difficulty in walking over a kilometre.

Key takeaway:

At a certain point, when our life goals shift away from being a competitive or sport specific athlete, our training goals must also shift. Training for longevity is a direction in which we can shift our focus so that we can maintain functionality and quality of life as we age. Programming should include displacement under loads (just think pushing, pulling, or carrying heavy things as we move), coupled with strength and mobility work, especially through the hips. These training patterns, with the help of sufficient recovery time, will assist in our fluidity of movement as we age, and will increase the likelihood of us continuing to live a full and quality life when we are 80+ years-old.

Activate runs a twice weekly ActivateMasters programme which pays particular attention to strength training for longevity. Visit www.activate.ie to find out more.

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Better late than never Christmas present for St Francis Special School

By Sean Moriarty St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use. Husband and wife team Ciaran […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use.

Husband and wife team Ciaran and Karen Dwyer, directors of Guerin Engineering and Pumps Ltd in Kilcummin, presented the special adapted bicycle to the staff and pupils at the Beaufort school on Tuesday.

After seeing an online request last December that the school needed the bike, they decided to gift one.

They contacted Glencar Medical, a Dublin-based firm that specialises in the supply of equipment to schools like St Francis, and ordered the bicycle.

However, nothing is straightforward in the current climate, Brexit, COVID and war all contributed to a delay in getting the bike to Ireland. Once it was in Dublin there were further delays in sourcing the special straps that St Francis’ children need to ride the bike safely.

It all came to a happy ending this week when the Dwyers were finally able to present their Christmas present to the school.

“We saw this request and we contacted the school and said we wanted to buy one, they told us where to get one, and we ordered it,” Karen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We had it paid for by the end of the year but then it took three months to get it into the country. It took more time to import the specialist parts. The costs were increasing but we did not mind at all.”

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Jordan Lee to tell his story to the county’s schools

Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry. The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series […]

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Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry.

The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series of informal talks on his achievements and how he overcame his disability to reach the top of his chosen sport.

The 21-year-old was born with a foreshortened left arm known as amniotic band syndrome but has enjoyed a successful sports career which included representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Now he wants to share his story and inspire other students to follow their dreams.

His tour started last week at Colaiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen and over the next few weeks, depending on his training schedule, will visit schools in Firies, Milltown, and Killarney.

“Don’t be afraid of people with disabilities or different backgrounds,” he said. “A few years ago there was only typical people in classrooms – you never came across people with disabilities or from various different countries. It is a lot more mixed now. I want to inspire people to treat everyone on the same level.”

‘Jordan’s Drive’ is made possible thanks to his role as a brand ambassador for Kelliher’s Garage, dealer principal, Tim Kelliher explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“Having got to know Jordan so well over the last couple of years we have come to realise how much of an inspiration he is so we decided to ask him to hop into his Toyota CHR Hybrid and bring his story out into the highways and byways of the Kingdom,” he said.

“Headlined ‘Jordans Drive’ and organised by my marketing team headed by Yvonne McMahon they have travelled to many of the schools around Kerry from Cahersiveen to Beaufort, Killorglin and with other dates planned for Firies and Milltown to name but a few. He has spoken his many words of wisdom to the children who have been in awe of the journey and his achievements, and we at Kelliher’s Garage are delighted and proud to have him as our brand ambassador.”

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