Exercising and working out is important when we’re young, and becomes even more crucial as we age. Exercise is known to be the number one factor of increasing longevity, especially if you’re healthy. As a senior, you don’t want to just add years to your life, but you also want a good quality of life to be part of your years. Safe workout routines are one of the main methods that can help do that for you.
We know there are both physical and mental health benefits for those who work out regularly. On the physical side, it will help you maintain or lose weight, build body mass, improve your immune system to fight off chronic illnesses, and enhance your agility, flexibility, mobility, and balance. The mental benefits are no less favorable, with improved moods, better sleep, and better brain function, which helps prevent memory loss and slows down cognitive loss as well.
There is no need to list all the reasons why you might not be working out as often as you should since you already know all the excuses people can come up with. So, we want to hop right into safe workouts you need to add to your routine. But before you undergo any type of exercise, you need to make sure that your body is physically capable of handling it. Seniors might also benefit from working out under professional supervision.
Any endurance activity is one that will make you breathe faster and help up your heart rate. One of the benefits of endurance activities is an increased endurance level in general, increased energy levels, increased metabolism, and prevention of heart disease.
Ideally, you should be able to incorporate 150 minutes of endurance activities into your week. These types of activities include swimming, walking, cycling, or any type of aerobic exercise. A typical week should look like this:
- Two 15-minute walks, twice a week.
- One 30-minute session of swimming or cycling, once a week.
- One 30-minute walk, or two 15-minute walks, once a week.
- One 30-minute session of swimming or walking, once a week.
This is what is advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting two days off in a single week, and working out at least three times a week.
For walking beginners, you can start with continuous walking sessions that range from two to five minutes. You’ll be able to increase this to 30 minutes eventually, three or four times per week. An older adult can safely walk for 60 minutes a day. If you have some balance issues, walk first on a flat surface before you hit the pavement or a park, or any place with uneven surfaces. You can also add riding 3 wheel trikein your routine.
Stretching and flexibility
When we’re young, we tend to take our bodies for granted, especially when it comes to small movements that seem more difficult when we’re older, such as bending down to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder. A senior who regularly exercises will have this freedom of movement again. Stretching will help with back pain, posture, and arthritis of the knee.
Knee pain is a common complaint by older people. To treat mild to chronic knee pain, you need to do low impact exercises for knees to strengthen the muscles around the caps. When muscle strength is boosted, it stabilizes the knee joint and helps the muscles absorb stress we place on the knee. Types of low impact workouts could include straight, and side leg raises, or wall squats, among others. If you want something more challenging, then you can go opt for indoor rowing. It’s a great workout and targets almost all muscle groups, where the muscles share the load across the shoulders, arms, back, legs, plus abdominal muscles.
Stretching and flexibility exercises can mimic everyday actions, such as the movement you make when you pick up a package, or the movement of putting something up on a top-shelf. The important thing is to work by sets and keep the duration of the stretch between 20 and 30 seconds.
Resistance training includes anything from lifting dumbbells and using resistance bands, to bodyweight exercises. These types of workouts get you stronger, but more importantly, they reduce the risk of bone fractures. Fractures are all too common in seniors due to bone density loss.
By working out, you will lessen the risk of fractures or breakage because you will be increasing your muscle mass. By 70 years of age, the average adult will have lost 25% of all muscle mass, so you want to work out to make up for some of that loss. For sure, strength training for a 25-year-old will not be the same as for a 65-year-old, but you are training according to your age, weight, and size.
Seniors and those living with them know that falling is something that could lead to serious injuries. Every year, more than one-third of seniors aged 65 years and over are injured in fall-related events, often caused by imbalance. Not all falls will necessarily be harsh and lead to serious injury, but some of them inevitably are. It’s important that we keep our balance intact, which can grow unstable as we age.
There could be other reasons why your balance is a bit off such as weakened eyesight or instability due to the side-effects of certain medications. Almost all balance exercises don’t require equipment, except maybe a chair to hold on to when you need to. Exercises could include standing on one foot for a short duration of time, walking heel to toe, as well as back and side leg raises. For exercises to work, they must be done in repeated sets and around three to four times per week.
Although this may sound a little too cliché, the fact is, you’re never too old for anything. If exercise wasn’t your thing when you were younger, you could make it your thing now. You can develop a daily routine, which is sure to make the rest of your day go smoother and will, in turn, make you happier by elevating your mood. It’s never too late to start your day with a great workout!
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