Exercise for seniors
If you have had medical issues or fatigue that caused you to stop being active, it can be hard to know how to start, because everything you try seems too hard. Aging can be a difficult season, and having less energy than you used to can contribute to a cycle of reduced strength, muscular atrophy, and faulty balance. This, in turn, can lead to increased risk of falling. Becoming active again can restore your independence and improve your frame of mind. No matter your age, you will be grateful that you took the time to invest in your fitness.
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I’ve been a personal trainer for about 10 years and I’ve worked with people from all walks of life. The most rewarding people that I have worked with are seniors. Exercise for seniors is very important. As we age many of the things we take for granted start to slip away. Things like walking up stairs and getting up from a chair become a challenge. Many of the seniors that I meet have never worked out before. They’re completely new to exercise and don’t know what to expect. With many of my senior clients I see massive changes in the first few months. A lot of the aches and pains they’re having go away and simple tasks are easier. All of them tell me that working out with a trainer keeps them motivated and safe while working out.
Working out for the young and old will provide many benefits to our health. We all should be focused on building a wellness program no matter what our age. Here are some guidelines for seniors ready to start an exercise program.
Keep things simple
If you’re a senior and just starting your exercise program remember to keep things simple. Adding complex movements to your workout will prevent you for moving forward quick. Even when I am training younger clients I recommend to keep things simple. Simple movements will help you stay focused on improvements in things like strength and endurance. The more complex a movement the less you will be able to lift. One of the simplest but move effective movements that you can do is the deadlift. The deadlift is the act of having a bar close to your body and lifting it up off the ground. Another simple exercise is the squat. Some people ask me if they can do a squat then I remind them that they’ve most likely done a bunch of them that day. A squat is the act of bending your knee and flexing you hip and standing back up. Basically, a squat is the act of going from sitting to standing. Another simple exercise is the plank. The plank is the act of putting your elbows on the ground and holding your core in place if you can. If Ruth Bader Ginsburg can do a plank they you might be able to do it too. When building your exercise program just remember to keep the movements simple.
If you’re new to working out or you were a heavy lifter in the past, we want you to start slow with your program. Don’t worry you will see progress week after week and that’s all that matters. Start out doing a couple of sets of squats and keep your reps low. Keep a journal and build on your numbers every week until you are doing about 15-20 reps. After you hit 15-20 reps you can start adding weight. Start with a 5-10-pound dumbbell or medicine ball. In no time, you’ll see progress with your strength and basic chores around the house will start to feel easier. The whole idea is to start slow and build up from there. I don’t want to get into program design to much because everyone is different. I recommend hiring a personal trainer to assess your fitness levels before starting your program.
Cardio programs are also important for a senior exercise program because it promotes a healthy heart and weight. Studies have shown that doing aerobic exercise regularly may extend your life. Running was the best form of cardio adding up to 3 years to your life. If you can’t run due to joint issues focus on walking, biking or swimming. When starting a cardio program remember to start slow walk before you run so that you don’t end up with an injury.
Keep a journal
I recommend that everyone keeps a journal to track progress. This will give you something to look back on when you have improved. Looking back and seeing how much you’ve improved will make you very happy. The most important part of a workout program is that you keep doing it. If you see results you will be more likely to stick with your exercise program. Write down your weights and how long or how far you’ve gone during your cardio workouts. Try to challenge yourself to do better every week. Share your results with friends and family this will ingrain those good habits that you’ve started.
It’s important to rest your body after a hard workout. Many people think it’s ok to workout legs two days in a row. This is not true because when you work out the body breaks down tissues and builds them back up during rest. What I tell my clients to do is break up the workouts into 6 days, 3 days of strength training and 3 days of cardio. This will ensure that the body has plenty of time to heal itself between workouts. Cardio doesn’t tend to break down tissue like strength training and can promote healing so do as much as you’d like. If your cardio workout is high intensity then you might want to take one or two days rest between sessions. A exercise program for seniors can hard on the body. It’s important to take a rest day or two.
Exercise for seniors is very important but adding stretching is an important part of a senior exercise program. It keeps the joints loose and the muscles at the proper length. Recent studies have found that stretching before a workout may reduce strength and has no impact on chances of injury. The best time to stretch is after the workout is complete while the muscles are warm. Doing chest, hamstring and shoulder stretches are great choices. Here is link from silver sneakers to help you get started.
Benefits of exercise for seniors
We’ve talked a lot about different things you can do for your workout plan but we haven’t talked much about the why. Exercising when you’re a senior will provide a ton of benefits. I’ve heard a doctor say that exercise is more powerful than any drug on the market for improving health and that’s for good reason. Working out improves bones, balance, heart health and reduces stress to name a few things.
Here are some reasons why seniors should start a workout program.
If you’re working out on the regular your body will start building stronger bone. When the body is put under stress the body will react to the stress by building stronger tissue to be prepared for next time. Many studies have shown that doing weight bearing exercise can reduce bone loss and possibly help the bones become denser.
Focusing on a wellness program will exercise will help to improve heart health. I’ve worked with countless clients that started with high blood pressure only to have it drop to normal levels after a few months of training. This is huge because many blood pressure pills cause side effects and getting off them is a plus. Many studies have shown that working out improves all markers when it comes to heart health.
Exercise has been shown to improve many mental health programs. Depression, stress and every memory have all improved after doing a workout program. Some studies are starting to show that exercising can help with your mental health. Running seems to be the best but weight training also has shown to have some benefit. One of the major keys is blood flow to the brain and the release of neurotransmitters that make us feel good after the workout.
Exercise is a great idea for seniors because it can help you feel young again. Doing a workout program can help with pain and reduce many health problems. Start simple and slow after a few months you should see some progress. If you’re having trouble getting started hire a personal trainer to help you.
Do you need a personal trainer? Here is a list to find out if a personal trainer is a good choice for you.