Exercise Programs and the Elderly

As people get older, they gradually lose the ability to do things that once came easy to them. This health deterioration can lead people to not want to exercise because of their health issues. For example, they may not be able to do certain types of exercise because of mobility issues or other things that come with age. 

But many older people still do wish to exercise, so how do you know which type of exercise program is right for you?

First thing’s first: talk to your doctor before doing anything. Let him or her know that you want to start exercising or increasing your level of activity. This is especially necessary if you experience any of the following:

  • Chest pain in your left arm and neck
  • Any shortness of breath
  • A heart condition
  • Bone or joint issues
  • If you currently take blood pressure or cardiac medications
  • Unexplained dizziness or fainting

Next, find something that you enjoy doing, such as walking, swimming, dancing, or bicycling. Doing something you enjoy is a great way to stay motivated and keep at it, but remember not do overdo it in the beginning. And participating in a program you have no interest in will do nothing except exhaust you and make you want to quit.

Remember to set a goal for yourself—you won’t get anywhere without it! For instance, if your goal is to be able to work in the garden for an hour, you might begin with a walking and weight lifting program. For the first day you can walk for around five minutes without tiring and lift a five-pound weight 10 times before you feel tired. As you continue to exercise and record your progress, you may find that at the end of six weeks, you’ve increased your walking time to 20 minutes and lifting capacity to eight pounds 10 times.

Luckily, exercise programs for seniors don’t often take a lot of investment. Using the example of the weights again, all you need is a sturdy dining room or kitchen chair and a few weights. You should also make sure to have athletic shoes that give good support (like walking or running shoes) and your clothes should be comfortable and loose fitting. If you don’t have actual weights, you can use a water bottle or can of soup instead.

It’s also important to know that you’re not going to become Superman or Wonder Woman in one day; it takes time to build your skills and your strength back up. You’ll also need to figure out which days you can best exercise, since the more faithful you are to keeping the schedule, the easier you’ll be able to keep up with the program.

So what’s the correct training range for endurance exercises? These types of exercises (like brisk walking, stationary bike riding, running, low impact aerobics, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, etc.) should be done at least twice a week. For the best improvement to your heart and lungs, you can try 3 to 5 times a week. The workout should be intense enough to make your heart beat faster and your breathing to increase but be safe to not overdo it. Stressing your system too much is a bad thing. You should try to work out within your targeted training zone range to get the most benefit out of your exercises. Speak to a healthcare professional to see how much and how hard you should be training.

Remember, take it slow, do what you can, and soon you’ll be seeing (and feeling) the results!