Becoming Active as a Senior

It’s no secret that exercise is important at any age, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions before beginning an exercise program. For anyone over the age of 55, it’s important to gradually begin a new workout program. Ease in and start slow to avoid the risk of overexerting and causing an injury. Once you become more comfortable with your exercise regimen, you may gradually increase your level of exertion.

Meeting with your physician before starting the program is also a good idea so that you may outline your health goals and ensure your body is ready for the new exercise program.

Aerobics

Start with walking. Use a pedometer to track your daily steps, and make it a goal to gradually increase the number of steps you take each day. Try parking further back and taking the stairs instead of elevators. Once you’ve made walking a habit, set goals to increase your distance. Walking a half mile every other day is a great start. Reduce the risk of injury while walking by wearing shoes that provide ample stability and support.

After you have made good progression with your walking practices, consider ways you can cross train – that is, incorporate different exercises into your fitness regime. Cycling, yoga and tai chi are efficient ways to cross train.

If you suffer from joint pain, water exercise may be the best option for you. The water eliminates pressure on joints, as it is low-impact, allowing you to exercise with less weight.

Flexibility and Agility

After completing any form of aerobic training, it’s important to stretch your muscles. This will reduce potential soreness and increase flexibility, while in turn, reducing the risk for injury. It’s important to have warmed-up muscles while you stretch, and breathe deeply.

 Strength

If you want to incorporate strength training into your fitness plan, it’s essential to speak with your doctor first. Strength training can include body weight exercises, free weights, resistance bands, weight machines and everything in between. It may be beneficial to join a fitness club, where trainers can provide you with a safe, customized workout program.

Relaxation

Take some time to rest your muscles and relax. Relaxation can relieve stress, lower blood pressure and improve your overall health. Treat yourself to a massage or participate in a beginner’s yoga class.

Hydration and Nutrition

Our bodies need around 64 ounces of water daily, and that number increases when you’re involved in a fitness program. The amount of water needed on a daily basis varies from person to person. Sometimes the sensation of hunger can really indicate dehydration, so keep a bottle of water with you at all times.

Nourish your body with whole grains, leans meats, fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods. This will help provide your body with more energy while exercising.

If any injuries are holding you back from beginning a healthy exercise program, contact your Campbell Clinic physician today.

This blog post was adapted from AAOS.