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Common Senior Fitness Myths . . . Busted!

New research is not only reaffirming the critical benefits exercise has for senior health but scientists are discovering how it can actually make up for inactivity earlier in life.

Exercise Increases Your Risk of Falling

FALSE. While some high-impact sports like soccer can indeed increase your risk of injury, most physical fitness activities for seniors actually do the opposite . . . they fortify your strength and flexibility to prevent stumbles and falls.

Did you know that the number of adults over 65 who experienced a fall jumped up over 30% in the past 10 years? Regular exercise that strengths coordination, balance, and agility skills plays a more important role than ever in senior health and longevity. In addition to chair core exercises, seniors should routinely take part in low-impact fitness practices like yoga, tai chi, swimming, riding stationary bikes, dancing, and hiking.

 

You Need Special Equipment

FALSE. The idea of “working out” is often pictured with a room full of complicated weight machines, treadmills, and ellipticals. The truth is, however, seniors can attain a full body workout with little to no equipment at all. Minimalist workouts have become very trendy and typically involve some basic tools at home like resistance bands, medicine balls, or lightweight dumbbells.

Seniors can also learn various bodyweight exercises like squats, planks, wall sits, and wall pushups that can be done at home, in a hotel when traveling, or simply between shifts at work. If a simple brisk walk is your go-to exercise habit, great! Increase the challenge by carrying a day pack with extra weight in it or changing up your route to include more hills.

 

Gym Memberships Are Expensive

FALSE. While it’s true that man people end up throwing money down the drain when it comes to gym memberships, seniors are at an advantage because of their age and more flexibile schedules. One of the best ways to save on membership and class fees is to see what local gyms accept Silver Sneakers members. Silver sneakers is . . .

Explosive growth in the Baby Boomer generation also has many gyms and boutique studios (think yoga and Pilates) offering discounted classes tailored specifically to the needs and abilities of seniors.

 

Exercise Exacerbates Joint Pain

NOT NECESSARILY. Joint pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and in severe cases, disabling. The thought of exercising with a chronic joint condition may seem like a bad idea, but research has actually found that low-impact activity helps to address pain symptoms by loosing joints, relieving inflammation, boosting circulation, and increasing the production of synovial joint fluid.

If you’re not sweating and about to pass out after a workout, it must not really be doing anything for you right? Wrong. While increasing your heart rate and breaking a sweat are good indicators that you are truly giving your body a workout, you don’t

Important Exercise Reminders for Seniors

When it comes to trying new exercises and nailing a new workout habit, older adults should keep these important tips in mind:

  • Talk to your doctor, especially if you have a chronic condition or take medicine for something else. Start a dialogue about ramping up your exercise routine and what you can do (and should avoid). Your doctor will have recommendations and encouragement for you.

  • Be smart about hydration. Did you know that for some older adults the sense of thirst diminishes with age? While you might not always feel thirsty, it’s vital to drink water before, during, and after a workout to help replace fluids that might you lose through sweat.

  • Compliment your fitness routine with healthy nutrition choices. This includes eating a well-balanced diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean meats, low-fat dairy and some healthy fats like avocado and olive oil.

  • Post-workout nutrition can play an important role in helping you retain muscle as well so make sure to eat a snack within one hour of finishing exercise that has some proteins and carbohydrates in it (peanut butter toast, protein smoothie, cheese and crackers, etc).

  • Protect your skin when exercising outside. You might be surprised to learn that the average age for being diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) is actually in your early 60s. Don’t forget the sunblock, hats, sunglasses, and breathable fitness clothes that cover your arms and legs when going for long hikes, swimming outdoors, and so on.

 

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