How do I Start With Exercises For The Elderly And Seniors?
First Things First: Check With Your Doctor
Before starting with exercises for the elderly and seniors you should consult your doctor. Let him or her know you are going to begin exercising or increasing your activity level. This is especially true if you have any of the following:
- Chest pain or pain in your left arm and neck
- Any shortness of breath
- A heart condition
- Any bone or joint problems
- If you are currently taking blood pressure or cardiac medications
- Any unexplained dizziness or fainting
Do something you love
Over exerting yourself or participating in an exercise program you don’t really like will make you exhausted and very likely cause you to discontinue activity. In order to gain the many benefits of regular exercise, including increased energy, weight loss, improved heart health and strong bones, you must like what you are doing.
If swimming feels great, dancing gets your excitement up, bicycling is refreshing, then by all means do what your enjoy! In our exercise classes, my students really like strengthening and stretching.
Record your progress
Athletes, from runners to weight-lifters, have used exercise logs and goal setting to achieve success. By recording your progress toward your goals you will gain perspective and be able to answer the question I get most often…How do I know if I’m getting stronger?
Let’s say you want to be able to get out in the yard and garden for one hour. That is your short term goal. You decide to begin with a walking and weight lifting program.
On your first day of exercise you can walk for 5 minutes at a brisk pace and lift a five pound weight 10 times before getting tired. You then continue to exercise and record what you are able to do at least weekly in your journal.
At the end of 6 weeks you have increased your walking time to 20 minutes and lifting capacity to eight pounds 10 times.
Now you can answer the question yourself. I AM getting stronger! And ultimately one hour in the garden is easily accomplished.( As long as the weather holds!)
Setting up an exercises for the elderly and seniors program at home doesn’t require a lot of investment in equipment. Unless you really have your heart set on that new all purpose gym from Sears!
More than likely though it will be in your garage serving as a clothes hanger in a few short months. All you really need is a sturdy armless dining room or kitchen chair and a few weights. Make sure you have athletic type shoes that offer good support such as walking or running shoes.
Your clothing should also be comfortable and loose fitting. Find a sturdy kitchen chair to hold on to for balance. You can use a water bottle or can of soup to lift if you don’t have weights.
If you can afford to purchase small hand weights, try picking up a 2 pound, 3 pound, 5 pound and 8 pound weight. These will likely serve the needs of most older adult exercisers.
Set a schedule and stick to it
How do ants make an ant hill so tall? They consistently add one grain of sand at a time. It’s the little bit you do every day that will over time increase your strength and endurance.
To be consistent requires taking a good look at your day and week.What days will I most likely be able to fit in exercise?
What time of day would be best? The longer you are faithful to the schedule the easier it will be to stick to the exercises for the elderly and seniors program.
What weight is good for me
Strength exercises are vital to maintain your ability to function independently in your home.
If you are only using weights for a strengthening workout, start with 1 to 2 pounds for women, and 3 to 5 pound weights for men. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions (Reps).
Rest 1 minute and perform another (set) of these exercises.You should not have any pain with these exercises.
When you can comfortably perform more than 15 to 20 repetitions, you should consider increasing your weight by a pound or two.
Strengthen a minimum of twice a week. 3 to 5 times per week is optimal to maintain a strong body that withstands the rigors of daily life as we grow older.
But I am not very flexible
Flexibility exercises allow you to more easily move and reach when doing your daily tasks around the home.Select a stretch to perform for the upper or lower body.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Then repeat the stretch 2 to 3 more times. You should not feel any pain. Generally stretches should feel good. Only hold your neck stretches for 5 seconds if you feel any dizziness.
Stretch a minimum of twice a week. To increase your flexibility, try stretching at least 5 days per week. Why not, it feels great!
But I have a chronic illness
There are several special exercises for the elderly training considerations that must be kept in mind for these conditions. You can safely exercise with these conditions by following some simple suggestions and checking with your doctor.
- Exercise and Heart Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Exercise and Obesity
- Elderly Diabetes
- Lower Back Pain Exercise
- Arthritis exercise
- Exercise for Osteoporosis
- Remember that with age, sudden intense exercise may be a challenge for your heart. Try to prepare your muscles with a 10 minute warm-up before exercising.
- Also, quickly stopping during a workout may cause blood to pool in your legs, increasing the strain on your heart. That is why a 10 minute cool-down session is important.
- Monitor yourself for overexertion which is indicated by shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness or getting that shaky feeling. Make sure you listen to your body!
- Make sure you increase your activity level gradually. Only add 5 to 10% increase to any workout.
- Think “posture” as much as you can during your workout. Good posture will help protect your joints and prevent any unnecessary injuries.
- Practice good breathing. Never hold your breath. Try to breathe in through the nose and out the mouth.
- Train at the Goldie Locks intensity. Not too high and not too low. We want your heart to make improvements in its aerobic fitness which requires training at least in the 50% to 75% range of your maximum heart rate.
- Remember, exercises for the elderly training will only show benefits if it is done regularly with the correct duration, frequency, and intensity. “Practice makes….permanent!” So don’t practice sitting in your recliner!
How do I work on my stamina
Endurance exercises for the elderly 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 for the elderly and seniors 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.
The Talk Test
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?
Ready to get to work?
Start with posture
First let’s learn correct posture before you start in order to help maximize the benefits of exercise. Watch our 6 posture videos for important exercises.
Review the proper techniques of breathing to improve your lung function and energy level. This video will show you how.
Increase your flexibility to allow full motion in your shoulders, hips, and legs with these exercises. Watch our 24 upper and lower body stretching videos for valuable instruction.
Build strength in the arms, legs and back to greatly enhance your functional independence with our 24 upper and lower body strengthening videos.
Gain endurance and improve your ability to walk and participate in energetic social activities like dancing and nature outings.
Develop better balance to increase your safety and help prevent falls. Watch the 12 best balance exercise videos now.
How we can help you
Regular Expert Content
FREE Facebook Community
Join hundreds of fellow seniors to ask questions and get answers.
Take your senior fitness to the next level with extensive courses, workouts, classes, tools, resources & support.