How much exercise is enough for an older adult who is either a beginner, or one who hasn’t exercised in a long time? How many exercises should be in the mix? How much is too much? How much is not enough? What are we trying to accomplish with exercise anyway?
Older adults need to extend their range of motion, do moderate to difficult resistance movements, get the heart and breathing rate up a bit and recover over a slightly longer amount of time. Seniors need to extend themselves just like anyone else, but not necessarily to the extent that younger people do. And of course almost any exercise is better than no exercise.
There are a lot of books on Amazon and at the bookstores about exercise. Most of them are for younger, more active people with bodies that are a little more supple, or at least a little more used to movement. There are a few “over forty” or “over fifty” books, but there are very few for those entering their sixties. Nearly all the exercise books on the market have far too many different and difficult movements for the average senior whether we have exercised in the past or not. For most of us, it’s too confusing to be confronted with so many exercises and to decide which ones to choose.
There are also many exercise classes for Seniors at local Health Clubs and Community Centers. Many of them are excellent programs and will provide you with good fitness results. There are also specific programs for Seniors such as “Silver Sneakers” which have good reputations among seniors. Most classes last 45 minutes to an hour. It might pay to look into one of them.
Keep in mind that most of those classes are ongoing and don’t consider that you might be just starting out. You need to be careful that you don’t overdo the exercises when you first start.
How should you feel at the end of a period of exercise? Tired but not exhausted. You will probably have some muscle soreness when you first start out, and even during the first several weeks. If the soreness is not excessive, you can keep exercising and work through the soreness. If you are very sore, back off a little, but you don’t need to stop exercising unless the pain is sharp or severe.
How long will it take to recover from exercise? If you start slowly and don’t push yourself too hard, you can do simple range of motion movements, stretches and non-resistance exercises five or six days a week. As a Senior, you should allow yourself a couple of days between each session of resistance exercises to allow your muscles to recover, strengthen and grow. Two or three days a week of resistance exercises is all you need.
There are some interesting techniques that older exercisers can use to move around on the ground much more easily and freely, that younger people simply don’t need. These include leg threading techniques and using body points, such as elbows and knees, as levers, fulcrums and pivot points to allow effortless movement on any surface. I’ll cover these in an upcoming article.
The point of all this is that you need to exercise, not too much, but enough to improve your range of motion, flexibility, mobility and strength and to allow you to do all the things that older people need to be able to do as part of every day living.
If the above sounds like a commercial, it is and it isn’t. I have a large print, large size book coming out in a couple of months. It will concentrate on just a few movements for a dynamic overall exercise and movement experience. It’s being written specifically for Seniors who are new to exercise or who haven’t exercised in a long time. There will be a series of only a few basic exercises, plus some alternative movements for those who can’t quite do the basics to start with. One point to mention though. I’ve called it a program a few times. It’s not. It’s a group of exercises that should be combined into a daily routine, but I would certainly not consider it a program. Maybe a method? How about if I call it The SeniorFlow™ Method. Look for it on Amazon.com in early to mid-March.
Thank you for reading.
Bob McMillan is a blogger, writer and speaker on the subjects of Health, Fitness and Personal Energy for Active Adults over Sixty. Contact Bob at: firstname.lastname@example.org.