As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In working with Baby Boomer generation and senior citizens, it’s more can you teach an old dog old tricks they don’t think they can do anymore. The short answer is yes. The science of neuroplasticity states just that concept. Medicine Net defines neuroplasticity as the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. As people age and become more sedentary, they learn new (and yes bad) habits in regards to posture and movement. Through exercise, people have to relearn the movements and habits they had as younger adults.
Does this mean exercise can reverse the signs of aging and years of poor healthy habits? No. What a structured physical exercise program like Learn To Move Academy can do, is teach Baby Boomers and senior citizens the movement patterns they stopped doing years ago. It’s not about how much weight a person can lift, but building in the neuroplasticity to perform these tasks in an efficient manner to reduce injury and strengthen muscles, bones, and connective tissues. Once the movement patterns are reintroduced, then it is a repetition and quality of practice issue. Time spent on performing over and over again these movements with correct form and appropriate resistance (if necessary) is the only way to learn and improve. Take the time and invest in some kind of professional help to ensure you are starting at the correct point and progressing in a reasonable manner.
The mental benefits of learning new old movement patterns are just as beneficial as the physical ones. Tons of new research coming out on physical exercise reducing symptoms of dementia and improving cognitive functions. Go learn those old tricks, your heart, brain, and muscles will thank you!
Matt Peale is a certified personal trainer with NASM since 2009 and the Sales Director/Partner at Learn To Move Academy. Soon he will be contributing a monthly article to Boomers Lifestyle Network magazine. Contact Matt with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.