The Importance of Health and Fitness for Seniors
When it comes to health and fitness for seniors, it’s important that you maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, even as you continue to age.
As seniors, fitness is essential for staying mobile and active, and it can even help lower your risk or help improve certain health conditions including stroke, heart attack, arthritis, and even Parkinson’s disease. Certain physical activities and specific regimens can even make quality of life better by reducing falls and improving balance.
“Seniors’ fitness is imperative to maintaining optimal health and wellness,” says Dr. Sean Wells, a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the fitness expert of BistroMD. “There are many biological functions that worsen as we age, but many of these can improve with the right type of physical activity regimen in place.”
As BistroMD’s fitness expert, Sean is sharing his expertise on health and fitness for seniors and providing you with useful activities that you can use to make sure you stay healthy and physically active.
You Are Never Too Old to Maintain Muscle
As we age, our bodies lose muscle mass, which can lead to a numerous amount of health complications if we don’t take the time to perform regular bouts of physical activity as seniors.
“Sacropenia, or loss of muscle mass, is a common occurring mechanism that occurs with aging,” says Sean. “With this loss of muscle mass comes the loss of power, or the ability to produce a quick force to overcome a loss of balance.”
Factor in other potential diseases that affect balance such as neuropathy, low vision, and limited joint motion, and you have a recipe for a disastrous fall. Once a person falls, they are exponentially more likely to fall again, risking a brain fracture or hemorrhage. In order to reduce your risk of falling, strength and resistance training techniques are vital to maintaining your power.
“If you are a senior and need to start exercising, it’s important that you start slow and progress naturally,” says Sean. “Begin with walking and lifting light weights 2-3 times per week. Starting with your body weight for leg exercises is safe, and allows you to build the proper foundation as you advance into heavier weight or more challenging points.”
Ignore the Stigma of Society
Many seniors and Americans alike have a stigma against “old” people exercising. Even if these citizens have lived a little longer than the rest of us, this doesn’t mean they are physically incapable of exercise.
“Exercise is for everyone,” says Sean. “It’s a universal drug with great business opportunities: endless refills, constant returns, and little expenses. The rewards to your health as you age will be endless.”
By forgetting about all of the stigmas that society says about health and fitness, as a senior, you can eventually work your way up to an effective cardio workout.
“The best thing to do is to aim for a final product of cardio 5 times per week, for 20 minutes each day, at an intensity where you are moderately breathless,” says Sean. “Most importantly, aim for resistance training 3 times per week, with 10-12 different exercises for the entire body, at a resistance where you can perform roughly 3 sets of 12.”
Mix It Up a Little
Other than resistance, strength-training and endurance exercises, it’s important to incorporate different activities that help improve the physical functions of your body like balance and flexibility. Incorporating activities like Tai Chi can do wonders for your health and fitness.
“If you have balance issues, but haven’t fallen, consider learning Tai Chi,” says Sean. “This martial art promotes slow and progressive movements that have been shown by strong evidence to help improve balance and reduce falls.”
You can also practice various aerobics exercises that promote simple movements, but help you breathe easier during more intense bouts of physical activity.
Relaxation techniques like yoga are helpful, but it is important to make sure that you are physically capable of handling activities such as these.
“As a senior, it’s always important that you stay physically active in one way or another,” says Sean. “By sticking with some of these recommended techniques, you are automatically for healthy and happy years to your life.”
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