As people begin to age, certain changes start to happen to the body and the appearance, together with the ability to exercise. While certain changes can be slowed down with vitamins and supplements such as quality collagen supplements for skin and hair, some may require a bit more determination.
Exercise is essential when you are older, but since your body has changed so much, your muscles won’t be able to work as long or as hard as they did before. Below we will explore a few tips to help you improve your fitness level, quality of life and put all your new senior exercise equipment to good use.
What to know
Researchers have discovered that the primary reason for the physical decline we usually associate with aging has much more to do with the increased inactivity than it does with the aging of the body. What’s more, continuing or starting a regular exercise program can reduce and delay the effects of aging, and even reverse some of the decline brought by previous lack of exercise.
Thus, as long as you don’t suffer from afflictions that can make you unable to move, it is not too late to improve not only your fitness level but also your overall quality of life. As you’ve probably already guessed, for the best results, cardio exercises are the best for seniors, and they should be part of your daily routine.
Of course, it is still important to be aware of what activities and intensity levels you can physically carry, and this is why we have compiled a list with some of the essential tips you ought to keep in mind if you wish to stay safe and to use your exercise time smartly.
Know your limits
If you have any medical conditions, have been inactive for some time, or you are simply new to cardio exercise, it is essential to be in the clear from your health care provider before you start. If you take any blood pressure lowering supplements, or medications for heart disease, you should ask if they can have any effect during exercise.
Since some activities can be more intensive than others, there might be things that your heart won’t be able to handle, so make sure you talk with your doctor before starting your cardio exercise routine.
Similarly, if you have any chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, there are some signs such as faintness, chest pain, joint pain, irregular heartbeat, or dizziness that your doctor can help you identify as a sign that you should pause your exercise session. You may also have to time your exercise session in relation to eating and taking your medications.
As a general rule to remember, you don’t need to exercise to the extent that you find it difficult to breathe or talk during the workout. There’s also The Talk Test, a method of measuring the intensity of an exercise. If you can carry a light conversation during your workout session, you are in a good intensity range.
The moment you find it difficult to speak, or when speaking causes you discomfort, this is a sign that you are working way too hard and that you should dial it back a little. While you might be accustomed to the “no pain, no gain” motto, it does not apply here at all.
Choose your routine
While it is possible to pick just one cardio activity that you enjoy and focus on it, if you wish to see better results, and want to stay motivated, it is better to make a plan first. To make sure that your heart and lung performance, functional capacity, and muscle endurance are all stimulated you should make sure that you follow the elements we’ll describe below.
To improve the heart and lungs’ ability to deliver blood and oxygen to your working muscles, you should have short bouts of higher intensity exercise. The goal should be to get your heart rate up into the upper half of your aerobic zone, about 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. Three 15-minute sessions per week consisting of high-intensity cardio should be enough.
A wide variety of exercises and activities is equally important, since if you only workout your legs using your favorite exercise bike for elderly seniors, for example, the rest of the muscles won’t get enough exercise.
Thus, to make sure that all your muscles will get equal attention, you can consider playing volleyball, tennis, golf, water aerobics or any other sports or physical activities that you may enjoy.
Since problems with joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles are more prevalent in senior citizens, the best way prevent them is to include a warm-up session at the beginning of each of your cardio workout and cool down sessions, including some stretching when you are finished. Both the warm up and cool down session should take around 5 minutes.
Remember to have fun and be creative
While it is indeed crucial to have a diverse cardio routine that includes walking, biking, jogging, or swimming, the best way that you can make sure you’ll follow your plan is to pick activities and sports that you enjoy doing. You can also be a bit creative, since anything that will keep you moving and get your heart pumping is a good choice.
Thus, gardening, yard work, dancing, or playing with your grandkids in the park can and should count as exercise. In the case that you have physical limitations that prevent you from doing standard exercises, there a few alternatives for you as well.
For persons that use a wheelchair, there are many video programs available for purchase that you can perform in the comfort of your own home. If you are social, and you find it much easier to stick to an exercise plan if you have support, there are also classes offered by many gyms or social groups for seniors.
There is also an alternative for persons that can’t perform land-based exercises. There are many water-based exercise programs available nowadays such as water aerobics and pool dancing and walking.