Whether you watch health experts on TV or read articles in your local newspaper or monthly magazines, what you mostly hear is how this exercise program or that exercise regimen is the best. We are supposed to put our trust, and of course money, into the hands of these so called experts who want us to spend hours working out to fast-paced videos or various types of equipment.
The problem is that many of us are well beyond the age where we should be trying to keep up with those who are promoting such products. In fact, quite often we are twice the age, yet they do not take into consideration our age or our physical ability, or lack thereof.
Senior exercise programs must be geared to each age group from our fifties on through our nineties and beyond. As long as we live we should at least do something every day to help us stay strong and agile enough to get around.
For example, after my father got out of rehab earlier this year, we had nine weeks of follow-up in-home care. One of the main objectives was to get him physically stronger and able to get around. He was given exercises that were doable for his age – 89-years-old – and a walking program. During the weeks the physical therapist was there and Dad was working hard, we could obviously see improvements.
As soon as her time was up, he went right back to sitting all day and not working out. Needless to say, he has really gone back downhill.
It wasn’t that the exercises were even that difficult. They really worked with him to do just what he could with maybe a little push to try harder. But the exercises were completely doable for him. It was that he didn’t want to make the effort. But, I can’t say too much because I don’t know how I would feel about exercise at his age.
However, we wanted to share with you a few guidelines regarding exercise routines and programs that might be helpful for seniors who want to get into shape or stay in the best condition they can even as they continue to age.
Tips on How to Exercise
Seniors may find exercise more beneficial than most people. Starting with a gentle exercise program will increase their strength quicker than men and women who are younger but much more active.
Check with your primary physician. Make sure it’s okay for you to do even the most basic exercise. They know your body and your capability. Once you get their okay, then proceed.
Warm-up. Gentle exercise includes keeping in mind physical challenges such as arthritis. It is important to warm up the body and loosen the joints before moving into a more difficult or challenging movement.
Listen to your body. Only do what you can do. Unless you have been working out for a while, do not push too hard to go further than you can at that moment.
Exercise every other day. Allow your body to rest on your day off. Not only is this important for the younger set, us aging seniors need to be mindful of allowing our muscles to rest before we exercise again. This advice does not include a daily walk.
Exercise workouts. The most common exercise routine is 20 minutes of exercise three times a week. While that schedule is okay for seniors, they again need to listen to their body and physician. They may only be able to do 30 seconds to a minute when just starting out, and then build up over time.
Know your limit. People usually know their own limit and should stop when they feel that it is time to quit without feeling bad about themselves. Just doing something every day or every other day is better than not doing anything. The last thing they need is to injure them needlessly.
If there are days when you absolutely do not feel like working out, at least walk around the inside or outside of your home. You will be surprised at how much better you will feel just going for a short walk. It won’t take too long before you can take a few more steps each day until you have quite a nice walking workout going for you.
Walking or swimming
If you live near an indoor or outdoor pool, try swimming as part of your exercise program. Some schools offer times for seniors to come in a workout and there are also classes available that will help you work out in water.
Walking and swimming are perfect exercises for seniors. Both are gentle on the muscles and provide an opportunity for advancement without too much effort or difficulty.
The most important tip we can offer seniors is to do something every day. If you are just walking, daily is fine. If you are using any type of weights or doing aerobic type exercise, you should work out every other day to allow your body to recuperate.
If you have not worked out for a while, begin with a few simple exercises to warm up and take it nice and slow. You don’t want to injure yourself and not be able to exercise at all or give up before you even get started. For your health’s sake, try gentle exercises to keep your body limber and to keep you feeling strong.