How to Improve Your Elderly Endurance

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If you are looking for one of the best resources on elderly endurance training exercises for seniors on the internet, you found it!

The benefits of Elderly endurance training in a senior exercise program

  • Increased endurance, energy level, increased fat metabolism, and prevention of heart disease
  • This works best if you workout at least three times a week spaced out with a 48 hour rest in between
  • It is possible to improve with a two day a week workout but we prefer at least three days

Two days a week is not likely to help you lose weight  but  really any amount of exercise is better than no exercise at all.

Start a walking program

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One of the easiest forms of Elderly endurance work is brisk walking. Walking has been referred to as the “King of exercises”.

If you are a low fit person, start with 2 – 5 minutes of  continuous walking.Try this a few times per day. Then build up to 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week.

Older adults can safely walk as much as 60 minutes a day.Beginners or those with balance problems, joint problems should walk first on flat surfaces or indoor at a mall.

Then you can gradually work up to more uneven surface as your balance and joints permit.

Tips for healthy feet

  • Keep nails filed straight across the top
  • Wash your feet daily with mild soap and water and dry thoroughly.
  • Those with diabetes should check their feet daily for redness, ingrown toenails and blisters.
  • Gradually build up your pace.
  • A healthy senior can safely walk between 1 to 3 miles per hour.

Hiking or walking shoes are the best choice for your elderly endurance  program. Regular sneakers or tennis shoes are not ideal because they are designed for more side to side movements in sports.

Look for a shoe with thick soles to provide cushioning and good heel support for increased stability. Thick socks will increase your comfort and reduce the risk of blistering

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Finding your correct training range for elderly endurance exercises

Endurance exercises include brisk walking, stationary bike riding, running, low impact aerobics, swimming, water aerobics, cycling or any exercise that makes you breathe faster and your heart to speed up.

Endurance exercises or activities should be performed at least 2 times per week. For optimal improvement in your heart and lungs and muscles, try 3 to 5 times per week.

Think of how much easier it will be to walk, grocery shop and play with your grandchildren! Your workout should be intense enough to make your heart beat faster and your breathing to increase but not so high as to over stress your system.

This is your training zone. Try to work out in this range to get the most benefit out of your endurance exercises. 

Below you will find three good ways of monitoring your intensity level for your endurance activities and finding your training zone. Pick one that will work for you and your situation.

Method 1: Maximum Heart rate

This method is the most precise when finding your training zone for your endurance exercises, but can be the hardest to learn. 

Take a breath… and see if you can follow along… 

A good range for the typical senior exerciser is between 65% to 80% of your maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus your age.

If you have been inactive for a while or have limiting health problems, keep your heart rate between 50% and 75% of your maximum.

For example….A healthy 75 year old man with a maximum heart rate of 145 needs to exercise between 16 and 21 beats when counting for 10 seconds.

Find your age on the chart below and follow to get your heart rate range for a 10 second count.

AgeMales 65%Female 65%Male 80%Female 80%
5518182223
6018182222
6517172221
7017172120
7516162120
8016152019
8516152018
9015141917
9515141917
10015131816

Take your pulse at approximately 5 minutes into the exercise.

Take your pulse again at approximately 10 minutes into your endurance exercise or after the hardest part.

Take your pulse just after your cool-down.

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To find your pulse on your wrist: Use the pads of your two fingers tips. Place your fingertips just below the wrist creases at the base of the thumb.

Press lightly until you feel a pulse (which is the blood pulsing under your fingers). If necessary, move fingers around until you feel the pulse.

Review the 10 second counts so that you don’t have to do math in your head while exercising. Slow down for the pulse count but keep your legs moving.

It is usually better to take your pulse at your wrist (radial artery) instead of your neck ( carotid artery). It is possible to press too hard on the carotid artery which could cause slowing of the pulse.

Wow..eeeehhhh!… I know this sounds complicated…..But once you find how many beats per 10 seconds you need to have…. you are done!

Method 2: Rate of Perceived Exertion

Don’t like the previous heart rate method?

Too complicated?

Want an easier way to tell how hard you are working during your workout?

An easier method is to just rate your feeling of how hard you are working on the 0 to 10 scale. ​For most older adult exercisers, you can work in the “moderate” to “strong” range which is 4 – 5. Give it a try.. it actually works quite well.

ScaleEffortHow you feel
0Nothing at all
1WeakSitting, reading book, watching TV.
2 WeakChores like folding clothes, washing dishes, that seem to take minimal effort.
3ModerateWalking through a store or other activities that require some effort but not enough to speed up your breathing.
4ModerateBrisk walking or other activities that require a moderate amount of effort and also speed your heart rate and breathing but don’t take your breath away.
5Strong Bicycling, swimming, or other activities that take a vigorous effort and get your heart pounding and make you breathe very fast.
6Strong Bicycling, swimming, or other activities that take a vigorous effort and get your heart pounding and make you breathe very fast.
7Very Strong The highest level of activity you can sustain safely.
8Very Strong The highest level of activity you can sustain safely.
9Very Strong The highest level of activity you can sustain safely.
10Extremely StrongA finishing kick in a road race or other burst of activity that you really can’t maintain for a long time at all.

Method 3: Talk Test

Still too complicated?

Want a VERY easy method to tell how hard you are working and make sure you are training correctly and safely in your training zone?

Try the talk test. It doesn’t get much simpler…

Basically, you should be able to speak in your normal voice and tone during your exercise session.

If you are out of breath and are unable to speak regularly, then you need to lower your intensity level by slowing down.

How’s that? Easy, eehh?

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FIRST: Make sure to sign up for my Eldergym® Senior Fitness Newsletter to make the most of these exercises and receive my free 4 week exercise program!

Resources Family Caregivers https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/STEADI-CaregiverBrochure.pdf