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Exercising with Advanced Age: Maximize the Benefits and Minimize the Risk

Exercise is important for anyone’s weekly routine and, as we age, it becomes even more important to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. The benefits of physical activity for those of advanced age are mental, physical, and even financial. In fact, according to the CDC, four in five of the most costly chronic conditions among adults aged 50 years or older can be prevented or managed with physical activity. Despite the benefits, getting into an exercise routine at any age can be difficult. You have to find an activity that meets your needs and works well with your schedule and physical limits.

Great Exercise Options for Seniors:

• Swimming or Water Aerobics

Swimming is a great form of physical activity for seniors because it allows you to be active With minimal impact on your joints. For those with arthritis or joint pain, exercise in the water reduces the stress on your body and can improve your flexibility and balance. The water also minimizes the risk of falls or other injuries associated with intensive exercise.

• Taking Walks

Walking is one of the most popular forms of physical activity among Americans and a great way to add some low-impact activity to your routine. Walking might be more challenging for some than others, so it’s good to set step goals based on your body’s limitations. The best advantage of walking is that you can do it anywhere: around your neighborhood, in the mall, or even from the comfort of your own home.

• Tai Chi

Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that involves a series of slow, controlled movements and deep breathing. This exercise is a sort of cross between meditation and yoga that has numerous health benefits including increased balance, weight loss, and even relief from some forms of pain.

• Moderate Weight Training

Weight training can involve lifting dumbbells or even cans of food. The versatility of strength training means you can successfully accomplish multiple strength exercises from the comfort of your own home.

• Resistance Bands

Resistance Bands are stretchy rubber bands that can be used to strengthen your core, flexibility, and balance. They are another exercise tool that can be used from the comfort of your own home. Even more, you can exercise with resistance bands while sitting or standing so it’s a great choice for those with limited mobility.

As we age, our bodies change and so does our level of physical activity. Regardless, it’s important to continue to exercise at any age. For those of advanced age, there is a wide variety of physical and mental health benefits. Physical activity can greatly improve your mobility. Long periods of sedentary activity can leave muscles stiff and cause aches and pains. Exercise also helps improve flexibility, balance, and strength and decreases muscle loss or atrophy. Regular physical activity can keep you confident completing everyday tasks like grocery shopping, climbing the stairs, holding your grandchildren, and more. This added control over your body will also increase your physical independence and autonomy so that you can enjoy more of the things you love to do. Regular exercise will also help you maintain a healthy weight and improve mental sharpness.

Exercises Seniors Might Want to Avoid:

• Running

High-impact activities like running, either on a treadmill, a track, or even outside may cause unnecessary stress to your body. Try exercises that put less pressure on your hips, feet, and ankles.

• Heavy Strength Training

Like running, heavy strength training might put unnecessary stress on your body. Lifting heavier weights than your body can handle could be potentially dangerous, especially for those with high blood pressure or other health conditions.

• Rock Climbing or Intensive Hiking

Rock climbing and intensive hiking require a large amount of flexibility and strength which can decline with age. Changes in gait, reduced strength in the extremities, and poor balance could lead to increased risk of falls or injury while performing an intensive physical activity like rock climbing.
While high-intensity physical activities like these might not be the best choice for some seniors, it doesn’t mean that all seniors cannot try these exercises. It’s important to realize that every person ages differently and has different capabilities when it comes to physical activity or exercise. No two people are exactly the same, which can make it difficult to pick the best exercise plan to fit your needs.

“Listen to your body and listen to your doctor’s recommendations,” said Certified Personal Trainer, Mary Kate Cogan of TPMG Strive Fitness & Sports Performance in Williamsburg. For those with heart problems, high blood pressure, or other conditions, consider how your body might be affected by your exercise routine and ask your doctor for advice on what physical activity is right for you. For many STRIVE clients, your exercise routine is determined based on your personal goals. Do you want to be able to walk your hyperactive dog? Do you want to be able to hold and play with your grandkids? Do you want to decrease your blood pressure or regulate other health conditions? Do you need help sleeping? Your desires greatly impact what your exercise routine could look like.

“It’s never too late to begin an exercise routine to improve your health,” said Mary Kate. No matter your age or fitness experience, you can achieve a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise. For most people this just means starting where you are. Not everyone’s fitness routine will look the same, but listening to your body and creating achievable goals will get you on track to a healthier and happier life.

For those looking to expand their fitness horizons, TPMG Strive Fitness & Sports Performance’s Silver Power Hour classes are an excellent resource to get you safely active and feeling better. These classes are designed to improve strength, increase endurance, flexibility, stability, and movement all in a socially distanced manner. For seniors who don’t know where to begin, this program is a great choice to help keep you accountable to a fitness plan. For more information about STRIVE’s personal training programs or classes, contact a TPMG certified personal trainer today.

Mary Kate Cogan, CPT

About Mary Kate Cogan, CPT

Mary Kate Cogan, CPT is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). Mary Kate earned her degree from Averett University in Danville, Virginia, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Personal Training. Mary Kate will always enjoy working with athletes, but she loves working with older, everyday individuals the most. Helping someone grow the confidence to perform routine tasks without the worry of falling or injuring themselves, with a simple smile in return, makes her job worthwhile. Mary Kate emphasizes that you may not be able to control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Mary Kate works at Strive Fitness and Sports Performance in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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