Exercise Tips for Seniors

Aging doesn’t have to be the specter looming on the horizon that many fear it is. Keep your body healthy through exercise.

Exercise, combined with diet, is one way to age gracefully. As we age, we lose muscle strength. It is a condition known as sarcopenia. Loss of muscle mass as well as strength can be a fatal combination in the aging population. Strength contributes to balance and flexibility. Without it, a fall can result in a broken hip or arm instead of a possible sprain from catching yourself.

There are no quick fixes to getting into shape. But, you can begin an exercise program at any age and reap the rewards. For seniors, implementing an exercise program may help to reverse the effects of time on your joints, muscles and bones. For women especially, osteoporosis is a threat as you age.

So, what types of exercises can you perform? Don’t worry – you won’t be doing any PT training any time soon. You can strive for that but not right away. When choosing your exercise, use these tips.

* Start slowly. This point can’t be stressed enough. There is nothing to be gained by hitting the ground hard. You are more likely to keep you with regular exercise when you find it enjoyable and painless. The best thing about exercise is that it is cumulative. Ten minutes here and there really do add up.

* Consider aerobic fitness. Aerobic exercise increases heart and lung health. Maybe now you are winded walking up the stairs. After a few weeks, that fact may change. The benefits of aerobic exercises stretch beyond the gym or walking path into all areas of your life.

* Increase your flexibility with slow movements. Popular exercises for that are yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. Through slow controlled movements, the body is stretched and relaxed. You won’t sweat buckets but then, an exercise doesn’t have to leave you panting to be effective. Increasing flexibility may combat stiffness in the joints and increase range of motion for easier movement.

* Don’t forget about strength training. Strength training means challenging the muscles with weights. It can even be your own body weight. Barbells are not the only weight instrument you can use. There are dumbbells, weighted bars, weighted balls, bands and exercise machines to name a few. It is important to hit all muscle groups for overall improvement in strength. Working the back and abdominals (the core) helps with balance and posture.

* The best exercises are sometimes the simplest. You don’t have to be a member of the gym to perform any of the above suggestions. Exercise DVDs are available. You can pop one in whenever it is convenient for you. Walking is a great overall exercise that can be performed in your neighborhood, at a park or even at the mall.