Fitness for Seniors

Fitness for Seniors

Fitness for Seniors

Swimming, dancing, jogging and yoga are some exercises that seniors can participate in to get maximum health benefits. Protecting bones from injuries is highly important, so, learning which exercises are best for your needs is essential. If new to fitness, check with your doctor first to see if you are ready to begin a new fitness routine. 

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    Before initiating any exercise training, older adults should receive medical clearance from their primary care physician. Safe forms of exercise for apparently healthy older adults include light forms of stretching, aerobic exercise, core and strength-training exercises. However, all exercises should be performed with precise technique to minimize risk of injury. Below is a brief list of guidelines:

    • Frequency: 3-5 days per week
    • Duration: 30-60 minutes
    • Aerobic exercise:  light to moderate intensity
    • Resistance training: 8-20 repetitions, 1-3 sets. Opt for exercises from a seated position and progress to a standing position.
    • Considerations:  Start slow and progress based on your physical capabilities
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    A , Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    Changes in flexibility are dependent on the frequency and duration of stretching. For people under 65 years old, maximum benefit is achieved with a slow muscle stretch until the muscle feels tight but doesn't hurt. (Slow stretching lengthens muscle fibers without causing tearing and damage. This is important since muscle tears often heal with scars, which are very stiff.) Once you reach this place, hold the stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing. While any stretching is better than nothing, less than 30 seconds is less effective. After 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat the stretch for a maximum of four repetitions. No added benefit is gained if you hold the stretch for more than 30 seconds or do more than four reps.

    The caveat to this is if you are older than 65. If you are, you need to hold the stretch for 60 seconds. This will gain almost double the range of motion. If you are younger than 65, there is no added benefit to holding a stretch for 60 seconds.


    Perform the set of stretches only once a day. No added benefit has been found with more than one set per day for each muscle group. It takes about six weeks of consistent stretching to see good results, and then you must maintain your muscle length by continuing daily stretches. Studies have found that if you stretch for six weeks and then take four weeks off, you will return to baseline as if you had never put in the effort. The good news is that by starting over, you can regain your flexibility again . . . after six weeks.
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    You can build muscles back up with strength training or strength exercises to replace the lost muscle mass as we age. If you don't replace the muscle mass that you naturally lose, your body composition will change to have more fat and less muscle. Simple weight-bearing exercises like walking can increase muscle mass and trim fat, too.
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    As you age, the ability to balance or stabilize becomes more and more important. Roughly 1 in 3 seniors fall as a result lack of muscle control and balance. Often, this is thought to be the result of having “weak knees,” but this is preventable through fall prevention training. An exercise you can do to strengthen your legs, and lessen the likelihood of losing your balance is the single leg touch down. For this exercise, balance on one leg. Use your opposite hand to slowly reach down your thigh, towards your shin. As you’re doing this, don’t allow your knee to move side to side by keeping both your glutes and stomach tight. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
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    A Family Medicine, answered on behalf of
    If you are 65 years of age or older, are generally fit and have no limiting health conditions, you can follow these exercise guidelines provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    • Get two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking every week.
    • Also perform muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
    It’s always important for seniors to get their regular checkups. If you have any doubts, consult with a doctor about starting an exercise program. A doctor can help you determine how much exercise you can safely tolerate.
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    A answered

    Regular physical activity will help keep you strong as you age, making it easier to remain active and be independent longer. For most older people, moderate activity is safe. Moderate physical activity should cause a slight increase in heart rate and breathing. It should feel somewhat challenging, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation without difficulty.

    Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program for the first time. Your doctor can help you design a program that takes into account any physical limitations or medical conditions you have. A well-designed exercise program should be able to accommodate just about any special circumstances.

    Build up your level of activity gradually to help prevent sore muscles or injury. Listen to your body, and don't try to do too much too soon. If something is painful or seems impossibly difficult, ease up or find a less intense activity.

    Three Tips to Get Started:

    • Block out some walking time. Walk around the block each morning or every evening after dinner. Walking is a simple and effective way to be active. You don't need any special equipment, just sturdy walking shoes. If you are worried about hurting yourself, recruit a friend, family member, or neighbor to walk with you. Having someone close by who can assist you, if needed, can bring peace of mind.
    • Focus on your flexibility. You may benefit greatly from flexibility exercises and can spend more time doing these and less time doing cardio, if you prefer. And strength and flexibility exercises can help protect you from injury. Simple stretches work fine. For some variety, find out whether your local community center offers dance classes for older adults. Dancing can build balance, flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness. You can also build balance skills with either instructional videos or structured classes on yoga or t’ai chi.
    • Seek water. Swimming and aqua aerobics are good options if you have aching joints, arthritis, or certain physical limitations. Water activities can build aerobic fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility. And because the water supports most of your weight, water activities won't be jarring on your joints.

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      A , Internal Medicine, answered
      Why is it important to replace muscle mass as we age?
      It's important to replace muscle mass as we age, because it's key for overall strength, balance, vitality, and quality of life. Watch me explain how strong muscles keep you healthier as you get older.
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      Prior to exercise you should always try and meet with a professional.  This individual might be your primary physician or it may be a trainer at the fitness center in which you belong.  Regardless, meeting with someone will help guide you in the proper forms of exercise in which to get started with or continue doing.

      As for seniors, much will depend on their fitness level.  Are you just starting or has exercise been a part of your daily life for years?  If you are just starting then basic core and balance training will be best.  This will help build a strong foundation and assist you to increase your balance and bone density.  If you have been active then stick with it!  Keep going and do what you feel you are capable of doing.  Again, meet with a professional first, they should be able to assist you.

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      A , Orthopedic Surgery, answered
      For aging athletes and adult onset exercisers, the main problems reported are acute muscle strains and chronic tendonitis. The junction between the tendon and the muscle is especially vulnerable since the structure of the muscle is less "stretchy" in this area than in the middle of the muscle. In addition, when muscles are fatigued, they lose their ability to absorb energy and are less coordinated. This makes them susceptible to injury during so-called eccentric movement. ("Eccentric" means that the muscle is contracting as it is lengthening. This predisposes it to injury.)
      Too much, too soon, too often, and with too little rest -- these terrible toos predispose us to overuse injuries. Unfortunately, these problems are common in older athletes and often result from a condition called tendonosis. While tendonitis is the acute inflammation of the tendon, tendonosis is the longer term, cumulative effect of repetitive microtrauma to the tendon that does not properly heal.
      The Achilles tendon, patellar tendon, rotator cuff tendons, medial epicondylitis (inside elbow), lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and wrist tendons are all more vulnerable with aging.
      As we age, our cells and tissues have less regenerative capacity than when we were younger. This leads to less durability of our muscles and tendons. Our musculoskeletal tissues also have a lower healing capacity, so it takes longer to recover between intense workouts. When not rehabilitated correctly, these overuse injuries can linger on and on, resulting in literally years of lost activity.

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      A Family Medicine, answered on behalf of
      Some older adults are afraid to exercise because they think that exercise isn’t safe for them. They worry they could fall and break a hip. Although this is a distinct possibility, there are precautions older adults can take. One specific way is by doing exercises to improve balance and flexibility. We recommend balance and flexibility exercises to help older adults gain confidence in their ability.