As we age, our bodies simply take longer to recuperate from physical stresses and the good, old-fashioned ravages of time.
Natural loss of muscle tissue, or sarcopenia, begins to occur around age 50, and a dearth of physical activity does nothing to slow the process. This wear and tear on the body is the leading contributor to falls and fractures in seniors, which in turn are a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.
Regular workouts for older adults – defined by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise per week spread over the course of 3-5 days – is the magic key. Exercise is proven to ward off ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many, many more.
There is virtually no end to the methods a personal trainer can use to help you get your blood pumping and your energy flowing – but these four workouts for older adults are a fine place to start:
- Strength/bodyweight training – Here’s the good news – you can put on muscle no matter how old you are. It just takes some work. The trick is to start small, with low-impact exercises such as chair squats, stair climbing, and wall pushups. Moderate exercises like these are hugely effective in fighting off age-related abdominal fat, depression, and, of course, muscle loss, and have helped seniors control their medical symptoms, while maintaining balance and preventing prevent falls.
- Cycling – For individuals over the age of 70, cycling has been shown to improve heart and metabolic function, cognitive ability, and much more. And the best news is that a stationary bike at a physical fitness center reaps just as many benefits as that Huffy 10-speed in the garage, without any of the risks (or bugs) inherent with the open road.
- Stretching – Flexibility takes a big hit as we get older. Combat rigidity by increasing the range of motion in the muscles you use on a day to day basis. Target areas such as the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, hamstrings, and more. Practices such as Yoga or Pilates can be extremely beneficial. Talk to your personal trainer about the possibilities.
- Balance training – According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 300,000 seniors age 65 and older are hospitalized for hip fractures each year, due to falls. Don’t let it happen to you. Combine bodyweight routines with balance exercises, such as walking heel to toe, standing on one foot, and leg raises, to improve poise and equilibrium.
Remember to schedule an initial discussion with your physician prior to kicking off a new exercise regimen. He or she can provide details regarding any medical limitations or chronic conditions you may have, and what the best course of action would be to remain healthy while getting healthier.
Otherwise, why wait? Feel the burn of that first bicep curl as you pick up the phone to dial Fitness Together Ellicott City at 410-750-2228 for more information.