Senior Fitness: It seems that we see these two words together more and more these days. And for good reason. The health benefits provided through an appropriate fitness program and a sensible diet are well documented.
Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand to build strong bones and muscles. Together they help reduce blood pressure and that nasty gunk that tends to build up in those precious arteries. You know that stuff your doctor keeps hollering at you about. They call it plaque. Exercise increases flexibility and decreases depression. But I am willing to bet you already know the reasons why you should exercise and eat right.
Measuring Senior Fitness
As fitness professionals, we are taught many ways of measuring fitness. Fitness can be measured in terms of body fat percentages, blood pressure readings, and heart rates. However, some of the most important benefits of exercise and nutrition cannot be measured with any instrument. Fitness is carrying a sack of groceries up a flight of stairs without your heart bursting into a million pieces. Fitness is falling up those stairs and not having to wear a body cast for the next six weeks. Fitness is the ability to hold yourself up straight and tall without the aid of a steel rod in your spine. I could go on and on but you get the idea.
Enjoying Senior Fitness
Most folks have engaged in a fitness program at one time or another. But one of the most common reasons for not continuing with the program is because it just doesn’t fit our lifestyles. A good fitness program is one that you will continue for the rest of your life. It’s not something you do for a couple of months to lose a few pounds. It’s something that you do because it makes you feel good. It’s something you do because it’s fun and you want to do it. That’s right, I said fun. If the program is not enjoyable or it forces you to eat foods that you have to choke down, then you will not stick with it. The fitness lifestyle is something that is accomplished in baby steps. It just doesn’t happen overnight.
Steps to Senior Fitness
The first step on the road to fitness is to talk with your doctor to find out what your limitations are if you have any. The next step is to do your homework. Find out what programs are available in your area. Community centers are an excellent source of various programs. Fitness professionals can also introduce you to all the different types of exercise available today. Keep trying different things until you find the right fit. Try different foods and recipes until you find healthy alternatives that you enjoy eating. Over time you will have developed the ideal fitness program
for you. One that you want to engage in every day. One that doesn’t make you feel that you are in boot camp or that you will surely starve to death.
Good luck on your journey to a fitness lifestyle. What are you “weighting” for?
Great Fitness Routines for Seniors Improves Health
When you think of the word retire as a senior, you may imagine days of dozing on the porch of your beachfront property. The thought of starting a new exercise routine probably doesn’t cross your mind. But exercise is good for you, whether you’re nine or 90, working or retired! Here are just a few of the many benefits of exercise:
- Better sleep
- Higher energy levels
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
Physical activity can also prevent or delay chronic illnesses, as well as help people already living with diabetes and heart disease.
Exercise is safe for most people. However, you should chat with your doctor first if you:
- Are over 50 and not physically active
- Possess a health condition like heart disease or diabetes
- Have a health symptom that is yet to be diagnosed
- Have recently undergone a medical procedure
A few additional safety tips include:
- Breathing during strength exercises — it’s natural to want to hold your breath, but don’t; breathe out during exertion, and breathe in as you relax
- Using all appropriate safety equipment
- Avoiding bending at the waist — you’re likely bending wrong if your back forms a hump shape
- Remembering to warm up, cool down, and start slow
Exercising with Arthritis
Many older adults suffer from arthritis, which can cause pain when exercising. However, exercise is actually good for people with arthritis.
To make sure you can exercise comfortably with arthritis, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe you a medication like celecoxib (CELEBREX®) to help manage your condition.
If the medication seems too expensive, consider accessing affordable international and Canada pharmacy meds through referral sites like Canada Med Pharmacy. They will ship prescription medication straight to you from licensed pharmacies abroad.
So, what exercises can you safely do as an older adult? The National Institute on Aging recommends doing four types of exercise: endurance, flexibility, strength, and balance.
Endurance — Walk and Roll!
Endurance exercises raise your heart rate and increase breathing. Not only do endurance exercises improve lung and heart health, but they can also make everyday life easier. You can walk longer distances, complete more chores in a day, and keep up with younger members of your family.
Walking or rolling (if you use a wheelchair) are beginner-friendly and effective modes of exercise. Both can be social, and you can squeeze them into your day seamlessly because you often need to get to places anyway! For example, instead of driving to the grocery store, walk or roll to the place. If it’s close by, use a longer, more scenic route.
A fitness device can help you track your steps. Getting 10,000 steps a day means you’re definitely getting enough endurance activity. More than that means you’re highly active.
Start both your endurance routine and step-tracking small. You don’t need to conquer a walk-a-thon right away. Instead, start with a 10-minute session and slowly work up from there.
Flexibility — Good for Everyday Life
Flexibility often decreases with age. Joints and muscles get stiff when you don’t use them as much.
This issue can make everyday activities tougher to handle. To make those activities easier, try doing flexibility exercises.
A popular form of flexibility exercise is yoga, and it offers plenty of health benefits. For instance, reduced lower back pain, increased relaxation, and better flexibility are benefits the exercise can bring.
If you’re interested in yoga, find a class to start with. Having a qualified and experienced instructor guide you along can help prevent strains, sprains, and other injuries seniors are at higher risk for.
The unique thing about yoga is that it is both a physical and mental exercise. Time spent practicing the exercise will have you focusing on breathing, relaxing, and listening to your body.
Yoga movements can also be practiced at home with limited space.
To get started, you can find a qualified yoga instructor near you through the website Yoga for Seniors.
Strength — Dumbbells Not Required
Seniors may avoid strength exercises because they fear to get hurt or don’t want to purchase expensive equipment. But strength exercises can be accessible, affordable, and safe.
These exercises can include wall push-ups, hand grips, knee curls, and more.
The National Institute on Aging had the following recommendations for handling strength training:
- Do strength training exercises two or more days a week.
- Aim for 30-minute sessions.
- Engage all muscle groups, but don’t exercise the same muscle group two days in a row.
- If you use weights, gradually add on more weights. You can add heavier weights once you are able to do two sets of 10-15 repetitions.
For any of these strength exercises, specialized equipment is not mandatory. Body-weight exercises using your body’s natural resistance, such as wall push-ups and chair dips, can be done at home with limited space.
Balance — Stay on Top of Fitness with Balancing Exercises
One common fear among older adults is the chance of falling and injuring themselves.
You can help prevent this fear from becoming reality with balancing exercises. Start by holding on to a sturdy piece of furniture for support with both hands. Then, gradually let go. Staring at a fixed point also helps with balance. Once you’re up for a challenge, try balancing with your eyes closed.
Tai chi, a gentle martial art popular with seniors, can be a great balancing exercise option. Many practitioners do tai chi outside. Doing this allows them to get fresh air, spend time in nature, and engage in a little mindfulness meditation.
Physical activity can be a challenge, but the benefits often outweigh the risks. For one, exercise can be a social activity that lifts your mood. What’s more, exercising allows you to feel strong, competent, and confident in your body.
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