You’ve just awakened to the fact that you are not as fit as you would like to be. Maybe you want to lose weight or you just want to feel stronger and stave off the symptoms of aging. Whether a senior, or a “couch potato”, you have been thinking of starting some sort of exercise routine….again. And then you decide, “Today is the day!” But before you run your newly- inspired self out (if you can run) and join the gym or do a marathon of dvd workouts, take a minute and read through these fitness guidelines, that can apply to anyone, at any fitness level. If you have quit your exercise routines, and then re-started months later, multiple times, as I have, I hope this article will be encouraging and useful to you. So with some encouragement and a few guidelines, maybe the days of quitting your exercise routine, then waiting six months or more to start again, will quickly become a thing of past, for you as it has for me.
Before I go on, I have to tell you about the primary catalyst that has encouraged and enabled me to start exercising (again!) It is this pure, raw superfood, Paula’s Micronized Purple Rice, and it is a God-send! It has helped reduce the arthritis pain in my joints to almost zero, given me more energy, and even a shorter the recovery time for sore muscles after exercise. Because of these improvements, I am less inclined to skip exercise. Most of the time, if I do skip my “official” workout, it’s because I’m so busy, not because I feel bad! Paula’s Purple Rice has become an essential to me for living a healthier life! Now. More about exercise….
Other than giving your body the best nutrition, it is very important to add muscular activity into your daily regimen to help your body increase or maintain its fitness and abilities.
Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. You can still exercise even if you have a health condition like heart disease or diabetes. In fact, physical activity may help. But, check with your doctor if you are over 50 and you aren’t used to energetic activity. Other reasons to check with your doctor before you exercise include:
- Any new symptom you haven’t discussed with your doctor
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pressure or the feeling that your heart is skipping, racing, or fluttering
- Blood clots
- An infection or fever with muscle aches
- Unplanned weight loss
- Foot or ankle sores that won’t heal
- Joint swelling
- A bleeding or detached retina, eye surgery, or laser treatment
- A hernia
- Recent hip or back surgery
After you get the go-ahead from your doctor, ease into your exercise routine. Try various types of exercise to keep from being bored and to find what works best for you.
For most older adults, brisk walking, riding a bike, swimming, weight lifting, and gardening are safe, especially if you build up slowly.
Some people who have limited mobility, may push themselves in manual wheelchairs, or practice standing/sitting. Some lift barbells, others lift soup cans.
Some go to aerobics classes, even if they have to sit while doing the routines.
If you’re thinking, “I’m too old to exercise“- That’s not really a valid excuse. Actually, you may feel and look older simply because you do not exercise. Many health experts feel that anyone, of any age or ability, can reap the benefits of some type of exercise.They just need the motivation.
Just knowing that exercise can help me fight off “The Dark Side” of aging (weight gain, ill health, lack of mobility)… is motivation enough for me, and the reason why I haven’t given up on exercise, in spite of my “on again, off again” fitness history.
I really don’t want to make excuses. However…. if I miss my scheduled workout, I won’t load myself up with guilt about it, because guilt is stressful, unhealthy, and counter productive. But… neither will I give up! Try, try and try again!
I know…. “Try, try and try again!” actually does sound like an excuse not to exercise. (“I’ll try again tomorrow…..”)
As I write this, I am reminded of the sage advice of Yoda, the Jedi Master, from the Star Wars movies: “Do or Do not. There is no try.” I suppose that can be motivational (Just do it!) and in some ways, it is, but it leaves almost no room for mistakes. I need to know that it’s ok if I fail (by occasionally skipping my exercise). And if that happens, I won’t give up. I know I can start again the very next day! To me that is trying and doing! (Sorry, Yoda) And really….It’s not like I’m training to be a Jedi, I’m just trying to be the healthiest version of myself, by fighting “The Dark Side” of growing older.
Hhhmm….Maybe I am a Jedi…Where’s my light saber?….Ah! There it is!
Types Of Exercise
If it’s been a while since you’ve done a squat, lifted a barbell, ridden a bike or even gone on a long brisk walk, read on for a few basic guidelines.
There are 4 types of exercise that seniors (or occasional slackers) should include in their workout program. Each of these groups have beneficial purposes.
- Stretching– Adds flexibility, increases range of motion, helps to avoid injuries, and alleviates muscle tightness and aches.
- Balance– Helps to prevent falls, increases confidence in one’s abilities, helps maintain independence, and projects a healthier and more independent image.
- Endurance– Strengthens the heart muscle, improves blood circulation and increases energy. Requires 30 min./day of activities that make you breathe hard enough so that talking is more difficult, yet still possible.
- Strength– Builds muscles that can help in the performance of activities, increases metabolism to control weight and blood sugar, and adds bone density to help prevent osteoporosis and broken bones.
Whatever exercise you decide to do, you should always think safety first. This is especially true for activities that you did easily in your younger days. Beware, your memory or ego may push you to take on more that you should. Here are some other safety pointers.
- Start Slowly – Overdoing it at the start can lead to injuries and sap motivation. Little by little, build up your activities and how hard you work at them.
- Don’t hold your breath during strength exercises. -That could cause changes in your blood pressure. It may seem strange at first, but you should breathe out as you lift something and breathe in as you relax.
- Have A Plan – Work with your doctor to choose the appropriate exercise, intensity and schedule. Choose things you like to do.
- Stretch First, Stretch Last – Warming up and cooling down are very important.Warm up your muscles before you stretch. Try walking and light arm pumping first.
- Pain Is A No-No – It’s ok if you feel sore, tired or uncomfortable. But Stop if you feel pain.
- Think Safe – Follow equipment directions, wear good shoes, stay within abilities, etc. Use safety equipment. For example, wear a helmet for bike riding or the right shoes for walking or jogging.
- Replace Fluids – Do not wait until you are thirsty. Unless your doctor has asked you to limit fluids, be sure to drink plenty of fluids when you are doing activities. Many older adults don’t feel thirsty even if their body needs fluids.
Exercise should not hurt or make you feel really tired. You might feel some soreness, a little discomfort, or a bit weary, but you should not feel pain. In fact, in many ways, being active will probably make you feel better.
For More Information on Exercise and Physical Activity
Local fitness centers or hospitals might be able to help you find a physical activity program that works for you. You also can check with nearby religious groups, senior and civic centers, parks, recreation associations, YMCAs, YWCAs, or even area shopping malls for exercise, wellness, or walking programs.
Looking for more information on how to exercise safely? Check out Go4Life®. This exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging has exercises, success stories, and free video and print materials.