How to Begin Your Senior Exercise Routine … Finally
When you live in a senior community like ours, you simply have more time. No chores. No home maintenance. And the facilities and equipment are just steps away. So now you can begin that fitness program you’ve been putting off for years. If you’ve been avoiding exercise, you’re not alone. By age 75, about one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity.*
We’ve all heard the benefits of exercise. More strength. Less stress. A boost in mood. A reduction of risk for heart disease and osteoporosis.
5 Tips for a Healthy Senior Exercise Routine
- Talk to your doctor.
Our workouts are specifically designed for seniors and accommodate all levels of ability. However, if you’re going to do this on your own, ask your doctor for recommendations for a senior exercise routine that will work for you.
- Think about what you like to do.
Consider two types of activities: cardio and strength. Cardio for endurance and stronger muscles to reduce your risk of falling. Both senior exercise routines work together to help you maintain independence by increasing mobility and your ability to perform the tasks of daily living.
Brisk walking is a simple aerobic activity with no equipment needed. Great for your heart and lungs. By brisk, your pace should be fast enough to get your breathing up. If you’re finding it hard to talk or breathe or feeling wobbly, stop.
Rather than using a heavy weight that will put stress on your joints, use a lighter one and lift it as slowly as you can. While it usually takes a person only one to two seconds to lift and lower, aim for 10 to 20 seconds. This small change will have a dramatic impact on your ability to gain strength. The key is to keep the momentum going without resting, moving the weight smoothly up and down or side to side. You’ll do less repetitions since the slowness increases the intensity.
Exercises that improve balance also build muscle strength. That can be as easy as standing on one foot for as long as you can maintain. Make sure you’re on a flat, no-slip surface close to a counter, a sofa or something secure and stationary that you can grab on to.
Yoga & Tai Chi
Yoga and tai chi have gained incredible popularity for seniors’ exercise routines in the past years. Both emphasize the smooth flow of energy and breathing, improve balance and concentration, and extend range of motion. While you can use videos to learn the movements, a class is better so an instructor can ensure your poses are correct.
Swimming and water aerobics have cardio and strength built in one. The gentle resistance of the water heightens challenge, increasing heart rate and muscle mass, while its buoyancy makes it gentle on the joints. Even walking in water improves fitness levels.
- Start simply.
If you haven’t exercised for a while, don’t overdo it. You’ll end up being sore and won’t want to continue your program. Try short (5-10 minute) intervals of moderate activity and gradually add more time. Two to three times a week, giving yourself a day or two in between to recover, ought to do it.
- Drink water.
While there are no exact guidelines for how much you need to drink, hydration is critical before, during, and after your workouts. Even if your activity level is not intense enough to break a sweat, refreshing water lubricates your joints and regulates your body temperature.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Muscle cramps
- Dry mouth
- Lack of sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
For seniors, exercise routines may come with cautions. Your prescriptions might alter your body’s ability to retain or shed water. Once again, your doctor is the best source of advice.
- Hate to exercise? Try these.
Even the best of us, can get a little bored with our exercise routine. These will put a little more spring in your step.
- Get moving in the course of your daily routines. Garden, window shop, or walk the dog.
- Buddy up with a friend. You’ll encourage and motivate each other. Instead of sitting and chatting, do it while walking.
- Participate in a fitness class.
- Schedule yourself at a certain time each workout day, then set an alarm.
- While working out,
- Listen to music or an audiobook.
- Watch a movie or TV show.
Group fitness classes are on our schedule almost daily. You’re invited to tour our gym and observe our classes any time. Join us. Fitness can be FUN.
* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention