Exercise for Seniors
By Guest Writer Ryan Crawley
Elderly strength training can ease the frailty that goes along with getting older. We all have known someone that is in their seventies, eighties, or even nineties, and they still move around well and enjoy physical activities. The reason behind this is they are usually still doing some form of exercising.
As a person gets older, he or she will face weaker bones and a loss of muscle. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter. The great thing is we can slow down this muscle loss by eating right and keeping up with an exercise program. Our bones will strengthen and it will be possible to live an active lifestyle for years to come!
As always, make sure you get a doctor’s approval before starting a workout program. It is better to be safe than sorry. However, do not depend on your doctor to recommend exercises or diets for you.
General practitioner physicians know a little bit about everything, but are not fully educated when it comes to fitness. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by physicians not to drink protein shakes. Protein shakes are actually a healthy replacement for a meal or a snack. Their lack of knowledge on supplements, however, do not prevent them from offering their own advice that is not medically based. Still, consult with a doctor if you have concerns before beginning a workout routine.
I would assume if you are like most senior citizens, you are interested in improving your stamina, regaining a bit of strength that you had when you were younger, and reacquiring some of your flexibility that you might have lost over the years.
The goal is to improve your quality of life, not getting contest ready for a bodybuilding show. Unfortunately, unlike the movie Cocoon, aliens are not going to show up at your door offering you rejuvenation with Steve Guttenberg and Wilford Brimley. You must accomplish your own rejuvenation through exercise!
Circuit training for seniors involves doing strength training every other day. It is best to involve all the major muscle groups in each workout. Remember, you are not lifting or performing these exercises to failure. The goal is to gain strength, mobility, and stamina. Do two to three sets of each exercise anywhere from six to twelve repetitions if you can. If the movement is too strenuous, go with a lighter weight or even fewer reps.
Bodyweight Squats – Perform these with only using your own bodyweight. Feet should be shoulder width apart, arms straight out in front, head up, and bend your knees until you are sitting back with your hips. Place a chair or bench underneath you for safety if you are a bit shaky when sitting back.
Push-ups – This can be a tough movement using your own bodyweight as you get older. If you need to, perform these on your knees to make them less strenuous.
Dumbbell Overhead Press – Do these standing or sitting. Pick a pair of dumbbells that are not too heavy. As you get older, shoulder joints can be very achy. Don’t go with a weight that will make them worse.
Dumbbell Bicep Curl – Perform these doing alternate curls with dumbbells that will make you stronger over time, but will not tear your bicep during the first set.
Bench Press – Bench pressing is a multi-joint movement that will work your chest, back, triceps, and shoulders. Make sure you have a good spotter for this exercise.
Lat Pulldown – The key is to do these will full and total movement.
Planks – A strong core will make all of life’s activities easier.
Cardio – Cardio is just as important as strength training. Try to find activities outside the gym that you can do with a friend. Walking, jogging, hiking, biking, or swimming can always be fun to do.
Remember – Breaking a sweat everyday can add years to your life!