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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    Many people believe that older athletes automatically need more recovery time between hard workouts, but our observations don’t confirm that. For the vast majority of athletes over 40 we don’t need to schedule any more recovery time than we do for our athletes in their 20s. The biggest reasons for this seem to be the older athletes’ attentiveness to proper recovery habits, post-workout nutrition and sleep. By extension, if many younger athletes had more of their elder’s good habits, they’d need less recovery than we’re forced to schedule for them. Athletes who allow work to consume their lives struggle to maintain consistency in training, nutrition and recovery habits. Carve out time for yourself and you’ll see your performance improve. Tri athletes of any age who can increase their average nightly sleep to eight or nine hours (as opposed to six or fewer), experience significant improvements in workout quality and race-day performance.
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    Exercises that maintain contact with the ground are known to help prevent bone loss in older adults. The exercises don’t necessarily have to include outside resistance. For instance, low level plyometric drills also help prevent bone loss – by stimulating bone growth. Some exercises you can do to prevent bone loss include the following:

    • Squats
    • Lunges
    • Pushups
    • Line jumps
    • Hurdle hops
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    There's a craze that's sweeping retirement communities all over North America: exer-games! Interactive video games (think Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect Sports) are extremely popular.

    Interactive video bowling leagues in retirement communities are huge. There are tournaments and even intercommunity rivalries. Many communities have get-up-and-move programs for everything from yoga to golf, skiing, soccer and even curling.

    Older folks who get active with these games reap many physical, mental and social benefits. As you advance in age, video games can help stimulate your brain, preventing cognitive decline, and memory and muscle (yes, muscle) loss—especially if the games challenge you to think about and do new things. With the added element of physical exercise, interactive video games can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia while improving overall brain and muscle function.

    It's no wonder the National Science Foundation is putting $1.2 million into a four-year study to investigate if and how video games slow cognitive decline. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also pledged $8.5 million to study the impact of video games on everything from Alzheimer's disease to driving skills.
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    The type of exercise will depend on the individuals.  Some seniors have been exercising all their lives and are able to complete different varieties of exercise without issue.  On the other side, some seniors have never taken part in exercise and are just starting. 

    First, we must see what level the individual is at.  Second, we must construct a program that will help give the individual benefits from balance/stability training, and core training.  These two styles of exercise may be all they need.  Others may be able to take part in some anaerobic and aerobic training but this will depend on their current fitness level.

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    A , Hospitalist, answered
    Physical training should include three components:
    • Aerobic exercise
    • Resistance (weight) training
    • Stretching
    I also recommend balance exercises for anyone in their 60's. Tai Chi is an excellent choice.

    Aerobic exercise is what you will do most days of the week. So choose something that's appealing. No matter what you choose, start at a low pace.

    Walking and jogging are easiest because you don't need to go to a gym or buy equipment. Riding a stationary bike is my favorite. I find it is easier on my joints than jogging.

    Resistance training should be done two to three times per week and never two days in a row. Start with low resistance (light weights). Don't increase the weight until you can comfortably do three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

    Always warm up before any exercise, even after you become more advanced. Take 5 to 10 minutes while you slowly bring your heart rate up.

    I recommend stretching after exercise. This way your muscles are warm. Stretching should feel good. Be gentle and gradually increase how far you go with each stretch.

    By starting slowly and working up to higher intensity gradually, you are less likely to injure your muscles, joints and tendons.

    If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately. Don't restart any exercise without first talking to your doctor.
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    A Fitness, answered on behalf of
    Your program should begin with a well-rounded fitness assessment that includes, but is not limited to, your medical history, goals, daily activities, occupation, body measurements, and movement assessments (like the Overhead Squat Test which measures muscle imbalances).  The results from these assessments can help identify areas where you need to focus on to successfully achieve your goals.  A well-rounded program will consist of stretching tight (overactive) muscles, strengthening the weaker muscles through resistance training and doing cardiovascular exercises for improving endurance and reducing the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease or diabetes.  In addition, I might suggest making sure your program also incorporates some balance training, as research has shown this helps improve activities of daily living (ADLs).  Switching up your program will also help keep you from getting bored and will offer you greater results overtime.  Overall, I would suggest stretching daily; performing your resistance workout 2-5 times a week and doing cardiovascular workouts 3-5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes a day to maintain a good fitness regimen that can lead to long-term benefits.   No matter your age, a good fitness regimen depends on your interests, level of fitness, and overall goals. 
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    A , Geriatric Medicine, answered
    I always like to recommend yoga as it stretches out the muscles and aids in balance. Balance is important for seniors as it can help prevent falls and facilitate walking and other leisure activities. It is also helpful in building muscle strength and definition. Also, aqua-therapy is great. This includes swimming in a pool which is sometimes easier for seniors as the chances of "falling" while exercising in a pool are greatly diminished.
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    Older adults experience physiological changes and degeneration with age. A well-designed resistance training program can slow the changes and improve muscle strength, fiber recruitment, muscle size, and overall functional capacity. When performing starting an exercise program, you should follow some general guidelines: 
    • Wear appropriate attire when using selectorized equipment.
    • Do not start joint movement at angles that are beyond normal ROM when using selectorized equipment. 
    • Encourage deliberate breathing to avoid rapid increases in blood pressure.
    • Perform short, initial sets of exercise with little to no weight.
    • Perform exercises with proper technique and avoid compensation of other body parts.
    • Perform 1-3 sets of 8-20 repetitions, 3-5 days per week.
    • Begin strength training by performing exercises with lower weight and higher reps and slowly progressing to higher intensity exercise.
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    A Family Medicine, answered on behalf of
    One of the top myths in health care is that older adults in their retirement years cannot benefit from regular exercise. Well, this myth is busted.

    Aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises, or some kind of regular physical activity, can improve the quality of life for adults at any age. And, if you are in your 60s, 70s, 80s or older, and you get a doctor’s go-ahead, there are many benefits to regular exercise. For example, it can help you prevent or manage chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and even painful arthritis.

    Some people who are older or obese are less likely to start exercising. That’s mostly because they’ve grown accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle. But it’s never too late to start exercising. Regular exercise can help slow down cognitive decline as we age. Physical activity also can help sharpen the mind.
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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.