October 16, 2017

physical exercise for seniorsGrowing old calls for adapting to a variety of changes, and the way we care for our bodies is one of the most important ones. We understand the necessity of remaining physically active, but may not be aware that the old tried-and-true physical exercise techniques we’ve long practiced should be modified after age 50, thanks to an increase in injuries, pain in muscles and joints, as well as general fatigue. For example:

  • Resistance over cardio. While cardio exercise is certainly still key for heart health, strength training is vital to counteract the normal decline in bone density and muscle mass. A recent study also linked resistance training with improved memory, even when done just once weekly for as few as 20 minutes. The aim is to perform 12 repetitions of each set of resistance exercises several times each week, raising the resistance level when it gets easier to do the exercises.
  • Consistently warm up. As a result of decreased elasticity in tendons that happens later in life, warm-ups are very important. Stretching out the muscles you are planning to exercise, along with a full body warm-up with light cardio like a walk on the treadmill, is advisable, a minimum of 2 or 3 times weekly. Health benefits include enhanced range of motion, increased heart rate and body temperature and better readiness for any muscles which are about to be exercised.
  • Change over to interval training. It is recommended that interval training – intense exercises alternated with easier “rest” periods – gives a greater benefit compared to a consistent exercise pace to burn off more calories and to maximize oxygen consumption.
  • Increase rest days. Per Dr. David W. Kruse of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute, “You need to focus more on recovery after 50. Tissue recovery takes more time and more effort to support that recovery.” This may mean a couple of days in between workouts. Take note of any kind of aching experienced and the impact it’s having on your next workout to determine the best time period to rest in between.

Make sure to consult your physician for personal recommendations on beneficial physical exercise routines, and if you have a client or loved one who could use assistance in providing the motivation, guidance, and transportation required to stick to a workout program and optimize wellness, contact Continuum of St. Louis at (314) 863-9912. All of our professional caregivers are experienced in helping seniors optimize health and overall wellbeing, and we help make exercising, and other activities, more fulfilling.