For senior citizens (over 65 years old), exercise is a very important matter. It can mean prolonging the debilitating effects of age-related diseases and help maintain a healthy outlook in life. On the other hand, exercise can also create unnecessary stress in the body and thus lead to lasting damage instead. If not done properly, exercise can be a very detrimental factor. For senior citizens, here’s some exercise tips to help ensure that exercise will be done safely while providing the health benefits.
Before doing any stressful activities like exercise, it is advisable that you should consult with your physician first. Even if it can be something simple like brisk walking, exercise can still raise the heart rate and thus affect the body. In addition, exercise will also affect how some medications work so it’s best to consult with a doctor that knows about your case and your medications. Thus, they will be able to advise you if exercise is indeed beneficial for you or not. In some cases a doctor will most likely decrease the intensity of a workout or exercise regimen according to your needs.
Precautions during Exercise
If you feel any sort of pain (muscle or inside your body), then you should stop immediately and take a rest. If the pain still persists after taking a rest, then have yourself checked in a medical facility or by a qualified physician. If you feel any of the following during exercise then consult your physician immediately: chest pain or tightness in the chest, neck or throat; considerably difficulty breathing; nausea, dizziness, excessive cold sweat; lasting fatigue even after exercise.
Should you feel under the weather like you’re running a temperature or if you have any pre-existing injuries, then you should avoid exercising until you feel really up to it. Remember that preventing any further aggravation of your condition is much better than regular exercise.
Health Benefits for Senior Citizens
Regular exercise can help improve your balance and thus reduce falls or injuries. Even if it’s just muscle tone exercises, it can still help with your overall body posture and thus help with your gait as you go about with your daily tasks. Being fit will also help you stay independent longer. Gone are the days when senior citizens are viewed as individuals strapped to a bed because of health reasons. Exercise will help you stay on your feet a little longer and will help you enjoy your life to the fullest.
In terms of health conditions, exercise may prevent heart diseases, stroke, osteoporosis, some cancers, and other fatal diseases. When you exercise, the continuous movement will help facilitate your blood flow and help you breathe deeply. Lastly, strengthening exercises can help keep your bones and muscles strong, so it will help prevent bone loss.
Types of Aerobic Activity
For aerobic activity, it is generally classified as activities that make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. For exercise geared towards senior citizens, there are two types: moderate aerobic activity and vigorous aerobic activity.
Moderate Aerobic Activity
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity makes you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. While you are doing this exercise and even after doing this exercise you can still talk, but holding your breath for a long time (like in singing) is difficult or impossible. Examples of this activity include brisk walking or bike riding.
Vigorous Aerobic Activity
In the case of vigorous aerobic activity, your heart rate increases a little and you will only be able to say a few words before you need to catch your breath. Don’t worry, having to catch your breath is normal for this activity and is no reason for concern; unless it persists well after resting when you’re finished with your exercise. Examples of this activity include cross-country skiing or jogging .
Hydration and Warm-up
Since you will be sweating a lot and losing fluids during the exercise, you should drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Keep in mind that the older you get, the easier it is to have problems related to ligaments, tendons, joints and other small muscles. If you don’t warm up before exercising, it can be very easy to cause damage and pull a muscle. The best way to prevent this, aside from doing a warm up before your exercise, is to include a cool down set at the end, and finally finish with some stretching exercises after you’re finished.
There is no rule that says only swimming, walking, or jogging counts as cardiovascular exercises. You should stick to activities that you enjoy doing instead of following popular workouts. Just remember that all you need to do is to raise your heart rate and keep your body moving. Even dancing, gardening, yard work, or playing with your grandchildren will do the trick.
Of course, it will be common to have some sort of physical limitations that will prevent you from doing standard exercises. In this case, there are several exercise alternatives available. For example, there are aerobic and strength-training exercises that you can do while lying down or sitting on a chair. There are even water-based aerobics or exercises if you are advised to avoid impact or weight-bearing movements like brisk walking or jogging.
If you feel that you do much better in a social environment, then you can check many message boards or exercise groups in your local area. There will be many exercise groups across all ages so don’t hesitate to look for one that suits you in terms of activity and schedule.
Increase Your Regimen Slowly
Even for young health aficionados out there, exercising rigorously without proper training or preparation can lead to serious injury. The same applies to senior citizens. A good rule of thumb is to increase your exercise regimen by increments of 10 minutes. For example, you can start by walking around your neighborhood for 15 minutes before taking a rest. Once you’re comfortable with that pace and time, then you can increase it to 25 minutes, before increasing it to 35 minutes and so on. Every small step counts so don’t rush things and learn to pace yourself. Pacing is one of the most important safety factors involved in exercising, and one that is overlooked easily. As we mentioned earlier, start at a slow pace making sure to not push yourself. If you feel any of the aforementioned warning signs, then make sure to stop and evaluate yourself after a few minutes of rest or so.
There are many exercise tips for senior citizens out there. The most important things you need to consider is that you shouldn’t over-exert with your exercise regimen. It can be also a very good idea to exercise with a buddy so that you can check each other, encourage each other, and also call for help if something happens.