When seniors exercise, they should focus on four aspects for a complete approach. The four major types of exercises are endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Improving in all of these will help improve function and performance when tackling different activities. These also prevent risks like falls and other accidents related to deteriorating physical condition.
Besides relying only on medical alert systems or fall sensor alarms to provide seniors with help that they need should they fall down or experience a medical emergency, staying physically fit and preventing the possibilities of falls and other illnesses provides another layer of protection.
1. Strength training
Depending on their level of fitness and strength, seniors can safely work out using dumbbells and resistance bands. Strength and resistance exercises aim to maintain muscle mass and function to prevent muscle degeneration or atrophy. Seniors have a faster rate of muscle atrophy compared to young adults, which is why strength exercises are highly important to tone the muscles and maintain a certain level of strength. A good example is squats.
Squats will target major muscles such as the thighs, calves and back. Use dumbbells when doing the exercise. An example pace is to do three to five sets of 12 repetitions twice a week, or less depending on one’s physical condition.
2. Endurance training
Endurance exercises are intended to improve the capacity of older individuals in performing physical activities. When a senior’s endurance level is above average, he can tolerate different activities and can perform tasks at home and other places despite his age. He will perform better and also gain a mental boost because of his good conditioning.
An endurance workout can comprise of interval training. Here are some examples: Do one set of squats for 12 repetitions, immediately followed by one minute on the treadmill. That constitutes one set. Do a total of three to five sets. Increase the sets over the weeks to continually build endurance. The common kinds of activities that supplement the increase in endurance are ones like brisk walking or jogging, swimming, dancing, yoga, climbing the stairs or hills, biking, playing tennis or basketball, or even yard work such as digging, mowing and raking.
3. Flexibility exercises
Workouts that focus on flexibility will condition the muscles, joints and ligaments to prevent pain and discomfort when performing regular activities at home. The approach generally involves a variety of stretching exercises like upper body stretches, leg stretches and torso stretches, and Yoga exercises also work well here too.
Doing stretching exercises upon waking up in the morning is highly recommended to improve blood circulation throughout the body, especially the legs. These can prevent falls and accidents around the house.
4. Balance exercises
Seniors tend to lose balance easily which can lead to falls and other related injuries. Balance exercises aim to help older adults maintain mental focus and physical conditioning to keep them stable when performing basic tasks. The exercises usually train seniors how to distribute their weight properly as well as how to execute movements properly to prevent accidents.
Examples of balance exercises are heel-to-toe walking, standing leg raises and tai chi, which also improve flexibility. Many of these exercise are useful because they can be performed while they are away from home and when convenient during the day. Techniques that involve lifting one leg up will help seniors achieve balance and stay fit for years to come.
To learn more, visit the National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life website.