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Fitness For Seniors – Reclaim Your Youth By Exercising and Staying Active

Fitness For Seniors - Reclaim Your Youth By Exercising And Staying Active

We live in a fast-paced and hectic world where everyone wants to access everything right away. Indeed, we have fast food restaurants on every corner, the ability to shop online, live streaming sports events and nearly everything we need at our fingertips. Throw into the mix the plethora of junk food that is available to us, it’s really no wonder that we continue to get more overweight and obese.

As everything is so convenient, we tend to get lazy and stagnant. Instead of walking to the store, or spending a few hours going to the mall doing some shopping, we order our groceries online and buy new clothes and furniture at the click of a button. Similarly, instead of putting in some time and energy cooking a family dinner, we call up the pizza guy or drive by a McDonald’s and pick up a cheap meal for the family.

All these conveniences of modern life may seem nice but combine that with all the junk we consume, it’s no wonder that health issues in our society have risen significantly in recent decades. The health risks of being overweight and obese are frightening. The heavier you are, the higher your chance of getting type 2 diabetes, having heart disease and high blood pressure, and cancers such as colon, kidney and breast.

Obesity is not just prevalent among adults, it is also increasing in children as well. It is a well-known fact that overweight children are more prone to remaining overweight when they reach adulthood. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.8 million people die each year due to repercussions of being overweight or obese. While overweight and obese individuals were mostly seen in countries with high-income levels, we are now seeing this health problem in low and middle-income countries as well.

Although pharmaceutical companies are all racing to create the latest and greatest obesity drugs, it’s no secret that diet and exercise are vital in helping control this growing health problem. As human nature tends to sway towards the easy way out, most people would rather take a pill than make an effort to improve their health.

It is important to take responsibility for your own health and well- being. By being informed and taking an active role in improving your health, you can increase your chances of avoiding many health-related problems and live a healthier and longer life.

Steps To Begin Exercising

There’s an old adage that says you are never too old to start something new. When it comes to exercise, this is no exception. While you may have never really been very active for the majority of your life, it’s never too late to start incorporating exercise into your lifestyle and reaping its health benefits.

Getting active and exercising is actually quite simple and can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. An important first step in this direction is to seek medical clearance from your doctor. Your doctor will be able to tell you if there are any medical conditions or limitations you should be aware of that could impact your health or ability to exercise. Also consider working with a certified personal trainer if you are interested in using the gym as a venue for exercise. An experienced trainer can set up a suitable exercise plan according to your needs.

Secondly, you’ll want to think about your goals for exercising such as:

  • To stay active
  • To gain some strength and build muscle
  • To condition your body to reduce the risk of injury in case of a fall
  • To exercise to lose weight

There can be many reasons for people who want to start exercising. No matter what your reasons are, as long as it is meaningful to you, it’s good enough. By understanding and recognizing your goals, you can structure a systematic exercise program with a time-frame in mind to reach them. For example, if you want to drop five pounds in 5 weeks, you’ll want to make sure that you lose one pound each week to reach your goal.

Once you’ve been cleared to exercise by your doctor and have some goals in mind, it’s important to make sure you devote a certain amount of time for exercise each week. Just as you may have other commitments that you don’t want to miss, view exercise the same way and mark your exercise schedule on your calendar. If your days tend to be full and busy, try to squeeze some exercise in your daily schedule as the first thing in the morning. In this way, no matter how hectic your day becomes, you’ve already managed to incorporate some workout into your daily schedule.

When you think about all the benefits of exercise such as weight control, reduced disease risk, increased mood and energy, just to name a few, it’s really a nothing to stress about. Knowing that there are actions you can take today to increase the quality of your life should be a good enough motivation. It’s never too late to start exercising and reaping the benefits of living a healthier life.

You Are Only As Old As You Feel

There is some truth to the statement that you are only as old as you feel. While aging is a natural and inevitable process, there are still things we can do to feel better and live a more active, fulfilled and longer life.

Enjoy Every Day 

Life is unpredictable. While chances of mortality increase as we get older, death can happen anytime. Accidents, being at the wrong place at the wrong time and sudden illnesses can happen out of nowhere and limit our days here on earth. On top of these, now the Covid-19 pandemic threatens millions of lives across the world.

Whether a young kid or an older adult, enjoying each day is important. Find beauty in little things, do stuff that makes you laugh and smile and surround yourself with good people. Live in the present and don’t let the past tie you down.

Don’t Let Your Age Be an Excuse

Never think you are too old to do something. Often it is our mind that limits our capabilities, not our age or body. Try something mentally engaging, like learning how to use a computer or smartphone. Join a local organization and learn how to swing and ballroom dance. The possibilities are endless. The only limits we have are the ones our mind places on us.

Stay Active

Try to find ways to stay active as much as possible. Find things each day that you can do to both enjoy living in the moment and increase your chances of a healthy, happy tomorrow. Go to your local shopping center, join a fitness club for exercise and socialization with others. It’s important to find things that you enjoy doing to keep up with life. Call up a friend and take a walk through the neighborhood and chat. You will soon find out that being active will make you more energetic and feel good.

Get Social

Whether it’s a local organization you can perform a community service at or a special interest club, get social! Being around others is great for mental health. Surround yourself with people who are uplifting and supportive. Having good relationships is important for being socially active. Spending quality time with people you enjoy is good for your happiness and well-being.

How To Stay Active in Your Golden Years 

You realize the importance of being active in your golden years. There are so many ways you can stay active that don’t require a gym or even activities that feel like exercise. The most important thing is to find something that you actually enjoy doing.

Here are some activities you can try that will get your heart pumping and release those endorphins or happiness hormones without having to step foot into a gym.

Walking 

Walking is a great way to spend some time connecting with nature or to bring a friend along and catch up on the latest. Best of all, all you need to walk is a pair of sneakers. Try walking with hand weights or walking poles to burn extra calories. You can also find a walking path that is hilly to add some extra dynamism to your route.

Golfing 

Another great time to socialize and exercise is golfing. Call up some buddies for a round of golf at your favorite course, or try a new one for a change. Golf involves walking, requires balance, and also improves your concentration skills. Not only are you getting physically active, but you are also working your mental muscles as well. If you can, skip the golf cart. Try walking the length of the course instead. You can also try carrying your golf bag around instead of pulling it across the turf.

Swimming 

One great thing about swimming is its low impact on your joints. If walking or jogging is too painful for your joints, swimming is an excellent alternative to strenuous exercise. Swimming provides cardiovascular workout and works nearly all your muscle groups. You can also use water weights to do a strength training routine. Swim as fast as possible from one end to the other end of the pool, and then swim back at a normal pace. This will get your heart rate pumping faster than swimming at a normal pace. You can also try reducing the amount of rest you take in between laps to burn more calories.

Dancing

Dancing can be a enjoyable activity while burning calories. There are many organizations on the local community level that offer dance classes. Joining a class can also be a great way to meet new people. Experiment with different styles of dancing, such as tap and ballroom, to find one that suits you best. Try a dance class that involves a faster-type dance style, such as jive or square dancing. You can even try a Zumba class – a Latin dance that involves aerobics and dancing.

Other Activities

The exercise options are endless. You can take a yoga or Tai Chi class, take a bike ride, go canoeing or do Pilates. Finding something you enjoy to keep you active is important. Try varying your fitness activities from time to time to keep your interest alive.

Essentials Of Exercise 

No matter how long you’ve been exercising, there is always room to improve when it comes to working out. It’s also good to refresh your memory on things that you can do to improve your workout performance.

Here are some key things to do and remember when working out.

Drink Plenty of Water

In addition to the fact that our bodies need an adequate amount of water, about 3 quarts minimum, each day to function properly, as sweating increases water loss. Be sure to drink before, during and after your workout. Carry a water bottle with you during your workout instead of having to stop at a water fountain repetitively.

Find a Workout Buddy 

Motivation is much greater when shared with someone you like. Being around others makes us feel more motivated and accountable. By finding someone who can meet you to exercise a few times a week, you are more likely to show up instead of skipping that workout.

Practice Consistently

While any amount of workout is better than none, consistency is important. Create a schedule where you absolutely work out certain number of days per week and leave a few days open as optional. If your schedule allows and you are feeling good on one of your “off” days, put some exercise in. Otherwise, don’t allow yourself to compromise on your scheduled workout days.

Use Weights 

Try mixing some strength training into your aerobics routine. If you normally walk on a treadmill for cardio, grab a light pair of hand weights and pump your arms while walking. You can also try picking up some weights during an aerobics class to burn more calories and give a boost to your exercise routine.

Concentrate on Pace 

It’s easy to get lost in a combination of a cardio sessions and a conversation with your gym pal. But the less we focus on the task at hand, the more likely we are to slow down or not push ourselves as much as we should. Try to keep a steady pace, particularly while on a stationary bike or elliptical. If you normally walk a 3.0 on the treadmill, boost your speed up by 0.1 every week to increase amount of exertion and distance covered. As with all things in life, plateaus happen out of nowhere. So it’s important to keep changing up your routine by tweaking little things here and there.

What You Need To Know About Total Fitness

There are five components that make up “total fitness” which are all important. Total fitness refers to how well your body performs in each one of the 5 components of physical fitness as a whole.

  1. Flexibility
  2. Cardiovascular endurance
  3. Muscular strength
  4. Muscular endurance
  5. Body fat composition

Let’s have a closer look at each of the component of total fitness.

1. Flexibility

Flexibility, often overlooked as a component of total fitness, is the ability of your body’s specific joints to move through the entire range of movement without pain or stiffness. Examples of flexibility would include stretching individual muscles or the ability to execute certain functional movements. The “Sit and Reach Test” is often used to assess flexibility.

2. Cardiovascular Endurance

It is the ability of your cardiovascular system (lungs, heart, blood vessels working together) to fuel the body with the needed oxygen during sustained workouts. Examples of cardiovascular endurance would be running, cycling and swimming. The “Cooper Run” which involves running as far as possible in 12 minutes is often used to assess cardiovascular endurance. Some trainers use the “Step Test” which requires stepping onto a platform for 5 minutes. Both are deemed to be accurate measures of a person’s cardiovascular endurance.

3. Muscular Strength

It refers to the amount of force your muscles can produce. Without adequate muscular strength, your body would be unable to keep up with heavy work loads. Examples of muscular strength would be the leg press, bench press, or bicep curl. The “Push Up Test” is often used to assess muscular strength.

4. Muscular Endurance

It is the ability of your muscles to perform contractions for prolonged periods of time without fatiguing. Examples of muscular endurance would be running, cycling, step machines and elliptical machines. The “Sit Up Test” is often used to assess muscular endurance.

5. Body Fat Composition

It refers to the amount of fat compared to lean muscle mass, bone and organs in your body. For example, a 200-pound person with a 25% body fat composition will have a lean body mass of 150 pounds. To be fit,

  • Men should have a body fat composition lower than 17 percent.
  • Women should have a body fat composition lower than 24 percent.

The average man has about 18 to 24% body fat, while the average woman has about 25 to 31% body fat.

Sample Gym Exercise Routine

If you are the type of person that likes to hit the gym to exercise, there are several ways you can get a workout without ever having to touch the free weights or exercise machines.

To make sure you are getting a balanced exercise routine, it’s important to incorporate cardio and flexibility exercises. Here is a sample workout routine that combines both cardio and flexibility exercises.

Flexibility Exercises

There are two types of stretches, which are dynamic and static stretching.

  • Dynamic stretching (D) involves continual movements that help increase range of motion.
  • Static stretching (S) helps lengthen muscles and involves holding a stretch for up to 30 seconds.

The following workout is a combination of both. You should try to tackle the flexibility routine 2-3 times per week. Perform 2-5 sets of each and hold the stretch (S) or perform the motion (D) for 20-30 seconds

  • Tricep Stretches (S)
  • Shoulder Rolls (D)
  • Neck Rotation (D)
  • Shoulder Circles (D)
  • Overhead Reach (S)
  • Arm Raises (D)
  • Hand Stretch (S)

For a demonstration and description of these stretches, visit SparksPeople.com.

Cardiovascular Endurance Exercises

For cardiovascular exercises, you can choose a variety of machines and options to get a workout. Spend about 3 days a week doing 20-60 minutes of cardio of your choice.

Make sure you are putting in enough effort in a way that you are working hard but not too hard. The conversation test is a good way to gauge how hard you are working. You should be able to hold a conversation with a buddy to a degree but not so easily that it’s no different than having a conversation sitting down. Some cardio exercise options are:

  • Treadmill
  • Recumbent Bike
  • Rowing Machine Elliptical
  • Stationary Bike
  • Swimming
  • Water Aerobics

Before engaging in these activities it is crucial to be shown exactly how to operate exercise machines by a qualified trainer and be cleared by your doctor to exercise.

Is Weight Lifting Safe For Seniors? 

No matter what your age is, health benefits of strength training are many. As we age, one of the biggest benefits of lifting weight is offsetting the natural muscle loss that occurs with time. Medically known as sarcopenia, muscle loss as a result of aging, this condition worsens when our muscles are left inactive. In fact, starting in our 30’s, we lose about 3-5% of muscle mass every ten years if we continue to remain physically inactive. While muscle loss is inevitable whether we are active or not, there is certainly a great deal of benefits to reducing the amount of muscle loss you will experience.

As we lose muscle, we lose strength and our ability to move freely and easily. Muscle loss also reduces our stamina. The less stamina we have, the less likely we are able to get up and move. Chances of being admitted and readmitted to a hospital for health-related conditions greatly increase as we become less active.

According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), titled “Protecting Muscle Mass and Function in Older Adults During Bed Rest,” clear evidence exists showing a relationship between resistance exercise and combating muscle loss and loss of functional capacity. Regardless of your age, it is clear that strength training is beneficial to help delay or reduce the natural muscle loss that occurs as part of the aging process and fight osteoporosis.

In a study done by Mark Peterson, exercise physiologist and researcher, published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, he found that more than 1,300 adults aged fifty and older could increase their muscle mass by an average 2.5 pounds in only five months.

Once you are cleared by your doctor and given permission to begin strength training, start doing it. There are ways you can safely add strength training to your daily exercise routine. Whether with weights or resistance bands, strength training is the key. Starting slowly is very important. Using your own body weight to generate resistance is a good place to start. As you become comfortable and confident with exercises and proper form, start using light dumbbells to add more resistance to your workout routine. Jumps of five pounds at a time are a safe bet as you become stronger.

Strength training works, no matter what age you are at. The proof is everywhere, not just in the scientific journals and studies published but in the lives of those who were fitness pioneers and lived a long and very active life. You are never too old to start.

Sample Weight Workout Plan For People Over 65

Staying active is key to healthy aging. Science has continually proven that strength training for seniors is beneficial in helping counteract the natural process of muscle loss with age.

If you’re looking for a weight lifting plan, here is a great work out you can try. Note that sets refer to groups of reps (repetitions), the number of times you repeat a particular exercise consecutively. Aim to do the following total-body workout three times per week, with a day of rest in between each workout.

Total Body Workout 

You should try to aim for 10 reps of each, 2-3 sets total per exercise. You can gradually increase your workout load over time under the supervision of your trainer.

  • Overhead Press (Shoulders)
  • Sit ups or Crunches (Abs/Lower Back)
  • Upright Rows (Shoulders/Back)
  • Side Raises (Shoulders/Back)
  • Lunges (Legs)
  • Squats (Legs) Curls (Biceps)
  • Tricep Extension (Triceps)
  • Wall Pushups (Chest)
  • Toe Raises (Calves)

Be sure to seek medical clearance before engaging in a strength training routine. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. Always warm up before working out and cool down upon completion.

Exercise Can Improve Your Sex Life, Even If you Are Over 65

As we age, we may feel like we are destined to enjoy less and less of life’s pleasures. But did you know that feeling more energized and being active can improve your sex life?

While the type of workout you do varies from person to person, what matters most is that you stay active. Cardiovascular exercise is great for your heart. It increases the rate at which blood pumps and flows throughout your body and improves circulation. On the other hand, lifting weights increases our growth hormone which in turn increases testosterone. The higher the testosterone, the higher the libido is. Also, taking a yoga class can increase your flexibility, which can help in the bedroom.

As we age, it’s normal to experience sexual frustrations as a result of a lack of libido or other issues such as erectile dysfunction. Sexual frustrations can eventually lead to relationship issues, but exercise is a great way to overcome this problem to a certain extent. The boost in strength and endurance you will gain as a result of regular exercising will translate into more endurance in your sexual life.

Endorphins and adrenaline rise as a result of working out, and this can mean a greater sex drive. In a joint study done by Sikiru Lamina, Chuba Okoye and Theophilus Dagogo on the effects of an interval exercise workout routine and its relationship to erectile dysfunction in patients with high blood pressure, findings suggested that erectile dysfunction decreased with the introduction of exercise routines. So it is safe to say that exercise serves as a great way to fight against erectile dysfunction without using prescription drugs. Sex in itself has health benefits that can reduce anxiety, release endorphins and even burn calories.

Again, as with any workout regimen, it is important to seek medical clearance from your doctor before beginning any exercise routine and to slowly add it into your daily routine.

Final Words

While it’s no secret that our genetics and perhaps even our luck play a role in how long we will live, there are certainly several things we can do to increase our chances of living a longer and healthier life.

A joint study done by Becca Levy, Martin Slade, Suzanne Kunkel and Stanislav Kasl on longevity of individuals in their 50’s showed that the subjects who related to statements such as “as you get older you are less useful” on average died seven and a half years before those who disagreed with those pessimistic statements. Seeing the glass half-full instead of half-empty may have more of an impact than we realize.

While being optimistic is certainly a good trait to possess, but on its own it won’t get you to seeing one-hundred candles on your birthday cake. Living a healthy life is important just as well, with staying active being a big part of the equation. The key is to find activities and exercises that you enjoy doing so you stick to your routine. In addition to being active, getting adequate sleep each night is important for longevity. Our bodies repair during sleep, so it’s important to get enough sleep on a regular basis.

By getting adequate exercise and sleep, you gain flexibility, awareness and balance which lower your chances of having a debilitating fall due to a lack of coordination, balance or foggy mind from a restless night. By being active, via whatever means may suit you best, you can increase your chances of leading a healthier, longer and more independent life.

The world as it is today is much different than it was a century ago. It’s hard to tell how it will look like another hundred years from now. But if you have a great set of genetics, luck and make the right choices towards a healthy lifestyle, you may find yourself being the next centenarian.

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