Before starting any exercise program, a healthy, older adult should consult a physician for exercise clearance as well as for specific information regarding his/her condition and ability to exercise safely.
Training should begin with a professional assessment like a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) as well as a movement assessment like a squat that can be performed in a variety of positions. These assessments can reveal pre-existing conditions and information that needs to be considered in designing an appropriate exercise program.
Cardio exercise options can include:
-Stationary or recumbant cycling
-Treadmill with handrail support
Basic guidelines for healthy seniors include working out 2-5 times per week for 20-45 min or 8-10 minute bouts.
Flexibility work should be included like foam rolling (self-myofacial release) and static stretching if it can be tolerated. If not, slow rhythmic stetches should be performed.
Resistance training can be very effective for the senior. Individuals can start slowly with 1-3 sets, 8-10 exercises, 8-20 repetitions with lower weights/resistance for 20-30 minutes. Seated machines progressing to standing exercises can be selected. Again, get a physician's clearance before starting and always consider pre-existing conditions that can affect one's ability to perform resistance exercises.
Exercisers must remember to breath normally throughout the workout and to progress slowly and with professional guidance to be sure proper form and control is demonstrated. Progression should depend on postural control.
The overall health and well being of a senior can be dramatically improved with exercise. The key is to be careful and aware of physiologic considerations that can impact exercise selection and programming. Consult a physician and a fitness professional before getting started!