Michael A. Fish (pictured) is owner of Practical Fitness Nashville, a gym that specializes in personal training for older adults. Here he explains why it’s never too late to get on that exercise bike!
If you’re in the gym and you see a swarm of older adults strutting down the hallway to the fitness center wearing their sweats, headbands and iPods to partake in physical exercise, you do not need to do a double-take. That’s right, you saw correctly.
More and more older adults have realized that exercising is not just for athletes and younger people anymore.
Over the years, the GI Joe and Baby Boomer generations have realized that there are great benefits for themselves by continuing to exercise. It is no longer a workout in order to look good on the beach or improve their athletic prowess. It is now a workout to improve their mobility, stability, strength, coordination, slow the aging process and possibly even diseases and improve their Independence.
Basically they are trying to move better, feel better and enjoy life more.
There are several Senior Group classes using chairs, water aerobics, and balance classes such as Tai Chi, but there has also been a major increase in the number of older adults doing individual workouts, lifting weights and performing endurance exercises.
It’s no surprise that aging causes loss of muscle mass and strength as well as the loss of flexibility and mobility. Unfortunately balance and stability may also decrease. Aging without exercise leads to a lessening of aerobic capacity, thinning bones, and susceptibility of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, neuromuscular diseases and the many other diseases associated with the aging process.
With new information emerging from research everyday, there is compelling evidence that shows exercise is beneficial for all age groups.
There have been many reports of how becoming or remaining physically active can help prevent, delay or slow several diseases. Growing older no longer means that you have to lose your ability to do everyday tasks. Unfortunately, seniors are more likely to have aches pains and illnesses. However, exercise has been proven to help improve all of the aforementioned.
The government guidelines for those over 65 are two and a half hours of moderate exercise every week along with strength training twice a week. Strength training should work all the major muscle groups, aiming to get 8 to 12 repetitions and three sets per exercise. In addition, endurance work, like swimming, walking, biking, or dance should be performed 5 times a week for 30 minutes. Those that are physically able can do one session of 30 minutes and those that are unable to attain that could do 15 minutes twice a day or even 10 minutes 3 times a day.
Strength training will aid in stability and balance, strength, bone health and general quality of life. Endurance work will aid with increased energy while performing daily activities.
Working with a fitness trainer to see what workouts would be most beneficial before beginning a workout routine and also to learn how to do the exercises correctly is highly recommended to avoid injuries.
When seeking a trainer, find someone who specializes in working with older adults and with any specific issues that you are dealing with. For example, if you have had surgeries, chronic pain, or a musculoskeletal or neurological disease, make sure your trainer is familiar with your conditions. A thorough fitness assessment needs to include checking your balance while sitting or standing, and your walking or gait balance. A qualified trainer will also assess your mobility, stability, strength and endurance before designing any workouts for you. Assessments are instrumental in being able to tailor a workout for each individual. Working out without an assessment at any age is like going on a road trip with no directions.
Once the assessments are performed and the programs are designed then the sky’s the limit. Workouts for seniors, just like workouts for young adults, can use a variety of tools, to keep the process fun for the mind and the body. Free weights, tubes, bands, medicine balls, kettlebells, battle ropes and many other pieces of equipment can be used to implement the workouts. Workouts must be as functional and as enjoyable as possible.
Older adults that work with trainers and develop a regular exercise habit, comment on how happy they are to remain more independent. The importance of being able to carry groceries, do their own laundry, compete in golf games or tennis matches, work beyond retirement age, and play with their grandkids or dogs, cannot be underestimated.
Let today be the day when you begin to move better, feel better, and enjoy life to the fullest.
About the author:
Michael A. Fish is the Owner of Practical Fitness Nashville. For more information, contact him at www.practicalfitnessnashville.com or 615-491-0682