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Exercise for Elders

Getting Started

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One of the great myths of aging holds that seniors can do nothing to slow the inevitable trend of deteriorating physical abilities. Declining stamina, flexibility, agility, and strength make it impossible to stay in shape. This myth also proffers that as we get older, exercise bears more danger of injury than it does potential positive benefits to health and fitness.

Baby-boomers today know that this myth is nothing more than poppycock! We all grew up with Jack LaLanne, and know that his exercise regimen allowed him to remain healthy and extremely active into his nineties. Despite what naysayers will tell you, he was not a freak of nature. You may argue that he was a freak of determination, but the truth is that any of us is capable of that same strength of purpose.

Another related myth is that seniors who are out of shape and have lost their agility, strength, and endurance are too old to ever get it back, so exercise is a waste of time and energy. Again, poppycock! In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. On a percentage basis, improvement by deconditioned people beginning a well-planned exercise routine will often be more dramatic among seniors than young adults. In addition, the resultant improvement in mental attitude and quality of life can be equally dramatic among seniors.

Now that we’ve convinced you the myths of exercise for seniors are pure balderdash, and you’re ready to start exercising, let’s take a step back and discuss some precautions. First and foremost, always always consult your physician before undertaking any type of a

It’s always easier to say no to exercise when you workout alone, and when you get little enjoyment out of it. You’ll be amazed how much you look forward to getting together with friends to exercise, and how much you miss it when you opt out.

Each person has different physical strengths and weaknesses, and should therefore utilize different exercise programs. Any exercise program should take advantage of your strengths and develop them, but it should also carefully work to attack weaknesses, slowly turning them into strengths. Your physician can help with the basic foundations of a custom exercise program. You can then combine that with your own lifestyle and preferences to lay the foundation of a complete program.

It can be very beneficial to have a qualified and accredited professional help evaluate your fitness and design an appropriate workout. The key here is “qualified and accredited.” The fitness industry is unfortunately littered with “trainers” claiming to be qualified to get you in shape. Most, however, have no formal training in anatomy, physiology, or exercise science. Following the advice of such a trainer can be very dangerous to your health. Only Exercise Physiologists are formally trained in all of these disciplines, so whenever possible you should find an EP to be your trainer.

rigorous exercise program. Your physician should discuss with you what physical ailments or potential problems you may have that require special monitoring, and suggest exercises that would be most beneficial.

You don’t have to undertake a regimen worthy of Jack LaLanne to realize significant benefits from exercise and greatly improve the way you feel. Even relaxed walking can have surprising benefits for a beginning exerciser, especially if you gradually increase your speed and distance as your fitness improves. The key is to craft a program that is safe, and one you will enjoy enough to keep doing it. Getting friends to join you in at least parts of your program can have tremendous benefit. It will help make exercising enjoyable, and help motivate you to make the effort on days you may not feel like doing so.

Boring programs done alone are often doomed to a short life span. Instead of walking on a treadmill in your den, try walking outside, perhaps in a local park or on marked trails when weather allows. If no area is convenient, set a schedule with friends to meet regularly at a local fitness club and walk treadmills together. The local mall is also a popular walking venue, probably because of the added stimulation of window shopping and people watching. If your friends aren’t in to exercising, join a health club and make new friends who  are.