Senior Fitness – What And When To Exercise?

Have you crossed 65? Do you exercise? I am asking you this is because I frequently come across old people who ask me: Hey, I am 65 years old – Is it safe for me to exercise? So, I thought of writing this post about senior fitness, necessity of exercising in old age, what and when to exercise in old age.

Is It Safe For You To Exercise In Your Old Age?

Yes, it is safe for most seniors to exercise. Even patients who are suffering from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis can exercise safely. All the more, many of such conditions get better with exercise. However, if you are in doubt whether the exercise would be safe for you or if you have been inactive for a long time, please consult your doctor first.

I am 65, and my personal experience is that one can achieve good general fitness in as little as 30 minutes of exercise each day. Exercising every day not only helps prolong your life, but can improve the quality of life also.

To get best results, make sure to incorporate aerobic activity, strength training, balance exercises, and stretching – the all four in your workout routine. The trick is to start slowly and gradually build your endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility over time.

Tip: Ask your doctor for guidance — and if you can afford then don’t hesitate to hire a personal trainer to help you along the way.

Fitness For Older Adults And Benefits Of Exercising In Old Age

For older adults, doing exercise regularly is the most important key factor for keeping fit in their old age. Practicing a balanced fitness routine will endow you with well being at every age. Keeping your body strong and limber can aid you maintain your independence as you age. It lets you to continue the kinds of activities you’ve enjoyed your entire life.

(i) Regular exercise can help control your blood pressure, body weight, and cholesterol levels.

(ii) It cuts back your risk of hardened arteries, heart attack, and stroke.

(iii) It also strengthens your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones to help fight osteoporosis and lower your risk of falling or other injury.

What If You Have Been Physically Inactive For Long?

The most important things to remember if you have been physically inactive for long or have never done exercise before:

(i) Start slowly and then gradually build up your endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

(ii) Walking for just 5 or 10 minutes at a time on several days every week, is a great way to begin. Gradually increase the time span.

(iii) Once you can walk for 30 minutes at a time, you’ve built a solid foundation and are ready to add more challenging activities to your routine.

(iv) Start gradually an aerobic routine along with a basic strength- training plan. This will help you build up the strength you need to support your aerobic workouts.

Caution:

(i) Take care to ask your doctor before embarking on a new exercise regimen.

(ii) You can also ask a physical trainer, especially who has working with seniors, to help you design a workout plan that suits your physical condition, specific needs and goals.

Aerobic Endurance

Aerobic exercises are those that increase your heart rate. They help to enhance your endurance. They are very so effective that it doesn’t take long to see noticeable improvements. After just six weeks of regular aerobic workout, you should feel remarkably more comfortable while exercising and going about your day-to-day activities.

The older adults should start with low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking, cycling, swimming, and water aerobics. They can also incorporate following into their exercise regime:

(i) Tai chi

(ii) Any type of dancing (Line, Square, Ballroom, etc.)

If you’re of age 65 or older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week — or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Tip: You can increase the intensity, frequency and time gradually.

Read here for Cardio Exercising Tips For Older Adults

Strength Training

Even small improvements to your muscles strength can have a big impact on your day-to-day life activities. Carrying groceries, climbing stairs, and getting up out of a chair all require muscle strength. If you’re 65 or older, the CDC recommends doing strength-training exercises for at least twice a week.

Begin with using small weights, such as 1- and 2-pound dumbbells. Try to do 10 to 15 repetitions of a variety of weightlifting exercises, like bicep curls, triceps extensions, and chest presses.

You can also use your own body weight to provide resistance, while performing activities like lunges, squats, and modified pushups. Carry out a variety of activities to engage and strengthen all of your major muscle groups, including your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.

For instance, try this modified pushup to strengthen your chest, upper back, and shoulders:

(i) Stand facing a wall, with your toes 12 to 18 inches away from it.

(ii) Lean forward slightly and place your palms flat on the wall at shoulder height.

(iii) Slowly bend your elbows so as to bring your body toward the wall until your nose nearly touches it, or get as close as you can without straining.

(iv) Then slowly straighten your elbows and push back to your starting position. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times.

Read here for strengthening your lower back

Balance

Each year, more than one-third of people age 65 or older fall. Falls and fall-related injuries, such as hip fracture, can have serious implications on an older person’s life. For older adults, even minor injuries can have serious consequences. Balance exercises, along with certain strength exercises, can help prevent falls by improving your ability to control and maintain your body’s position, whether you are moving or still.

Try these 5 exercises to help improve your balance and your lower body strength.

(i) Standing on one foot

(ii) Walking heel to toe

(iii) Balance walk

(iv) Back leg raises

(v) Side leg raises

Visit these two links to learn all about balance exercise for seniors:

(a) Especially designed exercises to improve balance in older adults

(b) Best balance exercises for seniors

Flexibility

As you get old, your range of motion starts getting affected. Reaching for objects on high kitchen shelves or doing basic activities like even getting dressed, do not remain as easy as they used to be.

You need to incorporate some stretches to your daily routine. Stretching, or flexibility, exercises are something you should do every day to help you maintain your range of motion abilities as you age. They give you more freedom of movement for your daily life physical activities.

Notes:

(i) Stretching exercises can improve your flexibility but will not improve your endurance or strength.

(ii) Make sure to warm up for 3 to 5 minutes before stretching by walking or simply marching in place. Then slowly move your body into each stretch, holding the pose for at least 10 seconds. Continue breathing throughout the entire stretch.

(iii) You can also do your stretches after you finish exercising.

(iv) Keep in mind that stretching should never be painful. If you feel sharp pain while stretching, or soreness the next day, you’re pushing too far.

Visit this link to learn how to perform Stretching exercises.

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