How Seniors Can Get Started on an Exercise Program

If there is one thing that seniors can do to live life to their fullest is exercise! Exercise helps to protect you from diseases, improves your sense of well being and live an independent life. It is never too late to start an exercise program so let’s take a look how you can get started today.

Benefits of Exercise

A few minutes of exercise each day can reap many benefits for you.

  • Maintain fitness
    • Exercise keeps your bones strong while becoming more agile. This will help with balance and flexibility issues
  • Prevents disease
    • Exercise combined with a nutritious diet contributes to a healthy heart, reduces blood pressure, improves mood and helps to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Weight
    • Exercise helps to increase or prevent loss of muscle. Loss of muscle will contribute to weight gain and a higher risk of falling.
  • Well-Being
    • Relieves stress, improves anxiety, reduces depression.
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Getting Started

Before you get started on an exercise program, make sure you have everything you need from equipment to the go-ahead from your doctor.

  • Get Medical Clearance
    • If you’ve been inactive for over a year, check with your doctor before you start an exercise program. They may offer advice and precautions.
    • If you take medications for any reason, your doctor may provide guidelines such as carrying a snack in case your blood sugar drops or monitoring your heart for intensity.
  • What To Wear
    • You don’t need fancy gear or expensive clothing but you may want to purchase clothing that will wick away sweat and fabric that feels better on your skin as you workout. If you need to monitor your heart rate, there are plenty of inexpensive fitness trackers available.
  • Where To Exercise
    • Find a gym that is close by. If the gym is too far out of your way, you will most likely find plenty of excuses not to go. If it’s close by, you’ll be more motivated to get to that workout.
    • Visit the gym at the times you want to workout to make sure it’s not overcrowded.
    • Have a tour to ensure they have the cardio and strength training equipment that interests you. If you enjoy swimming, a pool may be an important factor in your decision.
    • If you enjoy fitness classes, check out their schedule and types of classes.
    • Make sure the personal trainers and staff are qualified and have the accredited certifications.
  • Exercise equipment – While gyms do offer a variety of resources they are not necessary to start an exercise program. Many products are available to setup your own home gym.
    • Dumbells are the best home weights to buy that allows you to perform a variety of workouts. You can tone your arms or focus on intense muscle-building sessions. They take up little space and can be adjustable in their weight loads.
    • Exercise bikes are excellent equipment if you are starting a cardio program and plenty of online classes are available. Many kinds of bikes are available to choose from such as air bikes, spin bikes, cycling trainers and more.
    • Resistant bands can give you a serious workout by building lean muscles and increasing your overall mobility. Resistant band training can significantly improve hamstring and inner thigh flexibility. If you are recovering from injury or surgery, a lower-impact workout with resistant bands are easier on your joints.
    • Rowing machines are great for low-impact workouts but with a high payoff. They improve your cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular endurance and strength. Rowing reduces damage to weight-bearing joints such as hips, ankles and knees.
    • Treadmills provides a very efficient aerobic workout and they are a good choice if you are starting a new program.You can start by walking on the treadmill and as your strength and endurance develop, it can be used for jogging and/or for interval training.
  • Set Goals
    • When people first start out on an exercise program, they set goals that end up demotivating them when the goal isn’t reached. Make sure your goals are realistic. For example, if you want to lose weight, pick a weight that is reasonable to achieve.
    • Use SMART goals.This means setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
    • Goals should push you and keep you going on your workout days.
    • Plan your workouts you know are achievable and plan working out with friends or family.
    • Take it one day at a time but also keep your eye on the finish line.

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Exercise Programs

Cardio Exercise

A cardio exercise program pumps the oxygenated blood from your heart to other working muscles and should be included in your workout program. Cardio helps to strengthen your heart and lungs, and burns calories if you are on a weight loss program. It protects against weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. If you are recovering from heart disease or other illnesses, your doctor may recommend exercise as part of your recovery. The best cardio exercises include:

Strength Training

As we age, we lose muscle mass because our muscles don’t respond as well to dietary protein’s muscle-building ways and because of changing hormones. Being inactive also contributes significantly to loss of muscle mass. Strength training has many advantages including; reducing back pain, arthritis pain, protection from heart disease and diabetes and boosts your confidence! It takes as little as participating in a strength program twice a week to reduce the loss of muscle mass. Strength training exercises include:

  • Using body as weight for strength training (squats, wall pushups, hip bridges)
  • Resistance Bands
  • Dumbells

Flexibility Exercises

By improving your flexibility you will notice changes almost immediately in your day to day activites. You can bend more easily, move and lift things, stretching movements such as working in yard and putting on clothes. Your joints will feel more supple and flexible as well as a sense of overall well being. Best activities for flexibility include:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Swimming
  • Tai Chi
  • Dancing
  • Massage
  • Foam Rolling
  • Stretching

if you’re in pain from an injury, illness or medical condition check in with your doctor to get the green light to implement an exercise program.

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