Exercising regularly can prevent heart problems, diabetes, mobility issues, obesity, and other common problems seniors face.
However, older people may have weakened bones, muscles, and joints that make some exercises unsafe. It is important for seniors to consider this and pick exercises they can safely complete. Follow these useful tips to boost your fitness without accidentally hurting yourself.
Talk to Your Provider
When in doubt about anything, bring it up with your primary care provider. Your provider should have a good idea of your general health. They can talk about what would be helpful for your situation and tell you about safety concerns.
The most important thing to remember if you are new to exercising is to take it slowly. Overdoing it can cause all sorts of damage. You need to gradually get your body used to being active. Some good ideas for gentle exercise include:
- Take stairs instead of an elevator
- Walk around the block each evening
- Do calisthenics
- Stand at a work desk instead of sitting
- Take a yoga class
- Start taking a dancing class
Don’t Be Afraid of Weights
Many people stick with treadmills and stationary bikes because that’s what they’re used to. These are great at providing cardio, but seniors also need to do strengthening exercises. Weightlifting with light to moderate amounts of weight at any age can strengthen muscles and improve your stability and balance. They also help to prevent osteoporosis. Just make sure to use proper form to avoid injuries.
Try Balance and Flexibility Exercises
Exercises that improve balance or flexibility are very important for older people who are exercising. Tendons and ligaments change with age. This can lead to accidents during exercise. However, it is possible to improve these skills with stretches or exercises like tai chi. Just a few minutes of these exercises each day can make your main workout much safer.
Stay Hydrated and Comfortable
As you age, it gets harder for your body to regulate things like temperature and hydration levels. This can lead to some problems if you overdo it during exercise. Always drink plenty of water in the hour before exercising and sip a sports drink while exercising. When it is abnormally hot or cold, try exercising inside instead of outside.
Know What Exercises to Avoid
Some common gym exercises can put too much strain on the knees and other weaker joints. It is usually a good idea to avoid things that involve high intensity or heavy weights. You may want to consider skipping these exercises:
- Overhead presses
- Plyometric exercise
- Behind the neck pull downs
- Back extensions
- Leg presses
Get the Right Amount of Exercise
To get the best possible health results, the American Heart Association suggests you exercise 150 minutes a week. Doctors also recommend seniors take one or two days a week to rest. This keeps muscles and joints from being damaged due to overwork. To get enough exercise without overdoing it, slowly increase your exercise routine to a half hour of exercise five times a week.
Use a Trainer or Physical Therapist
Not sure where to get started? Check with the experts! It is important to remember there’s no shame in asking for help. Any good trainer or physical therapist will know what types of exercising work for older people. You can book a few sessions with them to get started and create a safe exercise routine. Once you have the basics down, you can go to working out independently.