The B.E.A.T. Plan

Your guide to establish and maintain a regular exercise program

Most of us are aware that exercise is beneficial to our health, but in today’s youth obsessed culture, the right formula for the autumn season of life* has become unclear. Just as we embrace new ways of eating, we must also do so with fitness. 

*To refresh this concept, refer to our blogs “Embracing Your Season of Life” and “From Barriers to Breakthroughs.”

B.E.A.T.

At the Best Years Group we use the B.E.A.T. formula as a guide for starting and keeping an exercise routine. B.E.A.T. stands for Balanced, Enjoyable, Attainable and Tailored to your body.

A BALANCED Program

According to experts at the National Institute on Aging, the four most important areas to staying healthy and independent are endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Fortunately, research suggests that these areas can be restored by a relatively small amount of daily exercise. Very small changes in activity levels can have BIG impact so be mindful not to overdo it in any of these areas but challenge yourself to hit all four. 

Endurance exercises increase your breathing and heart rate, making everyday activities like climbing stairs, grocery shopping, and playing with little ones easier and more fun.

Start out at a lower level of effort and work your way up gradually, especially if you have not been very active for a longtime. Set a goal to divide your exercise into sessions of no less than 10 minutes at a time. You can do a few 10 minutes sessions in a day, and eventually a minimum of 30 minutes a day, because it takes at least 30 minutes to give you cardiovascular and respiratory systems optimal benefits. 

Strength exercises go beyond simply building muscle and improving bone health. Strength training can jumpstart your metabolism, helping to keep your weight and blood sugar balanced. The more muscle you have the faster your metabolism will be, meaning that you will burn calories even when you are not exercising. Recent studies show that older adults can maintain muscle with the same amount of strength training as those who are younger.   

Improved balance helps prevent what has been found to be the number one fear of older adults: falling. To compound this fear, our balance naturally worsens with age. We, at BYG, encourage you to start slow, practice daily, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Be sure to use the BYG Yoga Library for balance techniques.

Flexibility helps keep your body and mind agile. As we age, muscles not only become weaker, they become tighter and shorter. Therefore, it becomes imperative to lengthen and stretch the muscles regularly. Orthopedists have found that people who have increased flexibility are less likely to suffer from arthritis and joint pain. A rule to live by: “I bend so I don’t break”.

To make sure you are hitting all of the areas while avoiding overwhelm, we recommend having an exercise calendar or adding exercise to your current calendar.

Choose Activities that are ENJOYABLE

One of the many privileges of the autumn season of life is that you don’t have to push yourself to your limits anymore. In fact, studies show that people get more benefits from exercise that they actually enjoy rather than things they dread. Before you jump into the dreaded pool of “must-do” exercises such as treadmills and ellipticals, write down a list of activities that you would enjoy. Remember, the best exercise is the one you will actually do! 

Here are few ideas: 

Gardening, swimming, walking briskly (preferably outside), tennis (doubles), indoor rowing, dancing, kayaking, golf (w/out a cart), or cycling on a stationary bike.

Make ATTAINABLE Goals

Attainable has action and intention behind it. In reaching a particular goal, it’s important to note that we all reach these goals differently, yet research shows 4 similarities. Knowing how your mind works can streamline your strategy around establishing and maintaining an exercise program. Here, we reference Gretchen Rubin’s, “The Four Tendencies” theory as we did in the beginning of the gut series. If you didn’t take the quiz, check it out here or read the following to reveal how you can set yourself up for success.  

TAILOR Your Activity to Your Body

Now that you understand how your mind works, tailor it to your body’s specific needs. Three components are important to ensure you establish and maintain a safe and effective exercise program.