Photo: Shutterstock.

As we age, being active is essential to maintain a good quality of life, physically, mentally and, yes, even spiritually. Our bodies are designed to move – to push, pull, crawl, walk, jump, squat, hinge, throw, turn, twist, stretch, kick, run, hop, roll . . . getting older shouldn’t mean doing less. In fact, we must continue these moves to stay mobile.

The kettlebell is a great training tool that should be implemented into your lifestyle. Unlike most conventional training equipment such as dumbbells or weight bars, the kettlebell’s centre of mass is exceptional for training due to its unique shape. It’s often underutilized in gyms, but shouldn’t be because it is one of the most effective tools.

It was first documented in 1704 in the Russian dictionary. I can tell you firsthand that people deep into their seventies and eighties are benefitting from kettlebell training, thanks to the swinging and lifting motions. I have even introduced my 72-year-old mother to kettlebell training and she has incorporated it into her daily routine.

A survey by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health revealed that adults spend an average of approximately 55 hours a week sitting, whether they’re watching television, using a computer or tablet, driving, or reading. Think about how long our grandparents stay seated. What about our parents?  It shouldn’t be that the older you get the more you sit and the less you move. That is counterproductive to the very essence of longevity.

Through the many years I have spent working in the fitness world, I have found that a smart program design, strength training with a purpose and a plan improves mobility and movement. Since longevity is often overlooked in trendy, high-intensity routines, I find it important to circle your training back to what matters most – building, strengthening and preserving the body, not breaking it down.

As we grow older, that should be the focal point. As we get wiser with our training, we begin to focus on how our training can improve the quality of our lives. Simple tasks, like getting up from off the floor, should not be overlooked and can be addressed through proper training.

The kettlebell allows you to get active and moving, giving you the cardio-respiratory benefit without any negative impact issues. Lifting weights help with bone density and combat muscle atrophy, plus improve reaction, timing, balance, physical strength and confidence. These are all factors provide the quality of life that you deserve.

Delving a little deeper into the definition of exercise we know that it is about injury prevention and performance enhancement.

Injury prevention: As you exercise, you are fortifying and balancing your body. Correct exercise should never lead to injury. While minor injuries can be common when playing a sport, it is absolutely not okay to get hurt lifting a weight or a kettlebell or doing a push up. They are meant to fortify your body and aid with injury prevention.

Performance enhancement: A solid exercise program is meant to improve your ability in a specific sport. This is why triathletes, basketball players, tennis players, swimmers and other professional athletes take part in a regular, regimented, and prescribed strength and conditioning routines.

Kettlebells have been around since the 1700s as strength-building fitness tools. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Robin Jakobsson.

If we continue to apply this concept to the fact that fitness is for anyone, we can see that by correct training we can actually help aging adults improve their longevity:

•  moving and living better
•  prevent injury from falls, weakness, instability and a sedentary lifestyle due to inactive muscles

The question often becomes how do you introduce exercise for an aging population that has not trained before.  You need to go slow, make things attainable, not risk injury or over induce a state of recovery. You also need to make sure they can get all of the benefits such as:

  • coordination
  • reaction and timing
  • balance
  • strength
  • respiratory and cardiovascular health

The kettlebell takes care of all those elements in a single workout. Its unique grip can help train the body, from fingers to toes. It can also enhance the health of smaller joints like wrists. A kettlebell swing can easily help a person get their heart rate up, but avoid any high impact motions as seen with exercise like running or jumping.

Those unique grips can help anyone at any age find the best point of holds and the most variety for basic lifts, helping avoid uncomfortable positions and holds that might be challenging.

The kettlebell training can help with weight progression by incorporating ballistics. And of course, the kettlebell is a very rich in coordination-based exercises (think swing switch).

With the incorporation of kettlebell training among a larger more varied population, it holds true that fitness really is for everyone – suitable to help meet a wide range of health goals. For those looking for a safe, effective way to get active and stay active, I encourage all to try kettlebells. They will not only improve your life, but may prolong as well.

About the author
Jodi Barrett is CEO of Kettlebell Kickboxing Canada and a master trainer. Find out more about fitness options with kettlebells here.