Category Archives: Exercise for Seniors

Geriatrics at the Gym: Why Older People Need Regular Exercise Too

Giving health and exercise recommendations to older people can be a tricky task because, unlike other age groups, they tend to have massive differences in general health levels and physical ability. Some older people can run marathons, whilst others struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

Yet no matter your level of health or mobility, adding a little extra exercise to your weekly routine (even for the elderly) is almost always a good idea for your health. Here are just some of the reasons why, especially if you are an older person, you should be exercising regularly.

Something is better than nothing

It is a simple phrase, but “something is better than nothing” pretty much encompasses all you need to know about exercise for older people. Many older people avoid exercise altogether because they cannot run on treadmills or do an aerobics class, but that does not mean that they cannot do any form of exercise. The US government recommendations for exercise for older people recommend that they perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week or else they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. You don’t need to be running like Usain Bolt on a treadmill: for example, a little moderate speed-walking (enough to get your heart-rate up) and perhaps playing with some light free weights while watching the TV can make all the difference. You may actually be surprised at what you can achieve. While you can start out gentle, you might find that soon you could work up to running, cycling, or even playing a sport.

You have the time (and the discounts)

If you are retired, then you may no longer have the age-old excuse of “I don’t have time to exercise.” There is no reason why you should not be using your newly acquired free time to stay fit and ensure you can get the most out of your old age. Much like being a student, perhaps the best part about being an older person is the discounts. Gyms are often sponsored by local governments to encourage older people to join their gyms, and therefore memberships for older people tend to be a lot cheaper than for younger adults. If you are not incredibly mobile, then you also have the option of buying some home fitness equipment like gentle free weights or exercises bikes to enable yourself to stay fit even if you can’t easily get outdoors.

Exercise is the best way to combat diseases of old age

Several conditions and diseases, from Type 2 Diabetes to hip problems, occur more in the older generation than they do in the younger generation. However, exercise (combined with a healthy diet) is actually one of the primary ways to fight these conditions and remain healthy. Active elders generally outlive their inactive counterparts, and a little activity everyday is essential to combating illness as well as generic losses of balance, strength, muscle tone, bone density and reflexes that occur naturally as you age.

Just because you are old does not mean you need to feel old

There is a large difference between being old and feeling old: the former you cannot fight but the latter is easily defeated. It can be easy especially for retirees to view your twilight years as a time for rest and relaxation, and it is a rest that many retirees deserve. But too much inactivity can leave you unable to actually enjoy all the things you told yourself you would enjoy in your retirement, whether that be a round of golf or playing with your grandchildren. Even if exercise itself is boring to you, the way to makes you feel simply put is younger.

Maintain your independence

As you become older, things generally become more difficult. Everything from climbing the stairs to carrying your groceries can become an insurmountable task. But it does not have to be this way: if you maintain your strength via exercise, then there is no reason why you should not maintain your independence and remain a functioning and contributing member of society. An incredibly amount of old people fear becoming useless or becoming a burden to their families, and exercise is just one way in which you can ensure you stay independent for as long as possible.

All in all, exercise has an exponential amount of benefits for people of all ages but it is especially great for older people as it really can make a huge difference to their health and their ability to maintain free and independent lives. Always consult a medical professional before undertaking any great change in your exercise routine, but otherwise, get out there and get fit!

Health Tips For Seniors

Post contributed by Mary Christiansen. Mary works as a marketing associate for 1-800-CPAP,  the discount CPAP supplies specialists.

People are living longer now than they did during any other time in history. It is estimated that there will be over 69 million Americans over the age of 65 by the year 2030. This will represent over 20 percent of the total population. While many believe that the most pressing matter dealing with this generation is the impending decisions dealing with social security and Medicare, there is something even more important than this, and that is helping to keep this rising generation as healthy as possible as they age. Here are some health tips to keep in mind when trying to keep you or your aging loved ones both healthy and happy.

Stay Active Doing Something You Enjoy

Probably the most important thing you can do to stay physically healthy is to stay active. Pick activities that you enjoy and try to do at least one of them every single day. While many people might enjoy going on a walk with their significant other or a friend every day, it is not necessarily something that everyone will enjoy. It is also helpful to know that as joints start going bad or just hurt a lot during exercise, it is best to move to something with low impact. The most popular low impact exercises generally take place in the water such including such activities as swimming, walking or jogging the water, or even water aerobics.

Prevent Accidents

Unfortunately, as old age sets in, accidents tend to increase. There are many reasons why this happens, but the most important thing to do is to prevent any potential injuries around your home. Be sure there are no loose carpets or rugs that have up-turned corners. When there are wires or clutter on the ground, keep them out and away from walking paths. Keep hallways lit during the night for higher visibility and also be careful of wet floors, especially in the bathroom.

Stay Social

It can be hard to get out of the house and keep up with friends, but this is an important part of life. Friends help manage stress as well as assist in any changes or transitions that may come through life’s events. Finding humor or seeking comfort is something good friends can provide. Living alone can be tough on anyone mentally. It is helpful to have someone to get you out of the house.

Immunize and Screen

The people who are most vulnerable to sickness and disease are the elderly and the very young. This means you should be sure to keep up to date on immunizations and vaccines that are available. It is also advisable to get a wellness check once a year as well from a regular physician as well as dental, vision, and hearing check-ups. These visits help to catch any problems early on in their development which is when they are easiest to treat.

Manage Stress

Learn to handle the stress that is just part of life through any of the many proven techniques for stress release. For some people, this comes through doing yoga. For others, it comes from regular meditation. Others learn how to think positively and change the way they talk.

Prevent Cancer

In this day and age, the harm that comes from smoking is well known. Not only does it take a toll on your health, but your wallet as well. Improve your physical and monetary quality of life by quitting this habit. Also, as skin ages, it become thinner, drier, and loses elasticity. This all makes it much more vulnerable to the harmful UV rays of the sun, so be sure and protect yourself as much as possible with sunscreen and wearing long sleeves.

Eat Healthy

The other half of exercising is eating well. Make sure you are eating enough food to ensure that all nutritional needs are being met. Many problems occur as a person ages, but many of these problems can be alleviated or improved through diet and exercise, so be sure to pay attention to what you eat.  Avoid fat and sugar and always be sure to get enough calcium and milk. Another thing that is often overlooked is sodium intake because too much sodium increases blood pressure. As you age, the taste buds dull and cannot taste as well. This is why people commonly add salt to their food more as they age.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

When there is more weight to carry around, the harder your joints have to work as well as your organs. The most common problems deal with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. These can be controlled with medications and a CPAP machine, but if you can keep your weight under control, none of these things will be required.

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

3 Easy Workout Routines for Seniors

It is especially important as we get older that we keep up with a sensible exercise regime in order to maintain our fitness, coordination, and strength levels. Apart from the physical advantages of a good exercise program, working out also helps to boost mood and release lots of feel good hormones into the body.

If you are interested in getting more active but are unsure where to start, check out these three excellent workout routines:

Cardiovascular

You should try to get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week in order to maintain your base fitness level. There are lots of ways that you can do this, and the best way to ensure that you keep up with the plan is to pick activities that you actually enjoy and get excited about. The best and most simple exercises include walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing and aerobics, and depending on your physical conditioning certain activities will be better suited than others. Water based activities and cycling are especially good if you have trouble with your joints, as these activities lower the impact level on the knees and hips. If you don’t suffer from joint pain, weight bearing exercises such as dancing and jogging can be extremely beneficial as they improve bone strength as well as cardiovascular endurance.

To get the most out of these exercises, you should be aiming to work for at least half an hour each time at between 40% and 85% more than your resting heart rate.

Resistance Training

Resistance training plays an important role in maintaining a healthy body, and it is especially good for building lean muscle mass and increasing key functionalities such as grip and balance. Maintaining core body strength is vital as we grow older, and some of the best exercises that you can do to build strength include weight lifting (not heavy weights though), body weight resistance, and resistant band exercises. Resistance training workouts can be done at home with a few simple items of equipment. Some dumbbells and resistance bands are all that is required to get going, and in no time at all, you will be feeling stronger and healthier. It is important not to overdo it on the resistance training though, so a maximum of two or three half hour workouts should be sufficient.

Balance Training

Balance training becomes increasingly important as we get older as it helps to maintain strength in key muscle groups which are vital for ensuring that we do not suffer from a fall. Balance can be affected by many different things, including weight, so if you are a little overweight, altering your diet to the keto diet plan may help to improve balance. Training exercises for balance include single limb stances, eye tracking, clock reaches, staggered stance moves, and many others besides. These exercises can be carried out for 10 20 minutes daily in order to get the best results.

Working Out In Your Senior Years

Being older is a benefit to working out because you can still keep your body in excellent shape. Age does not make a difference when it comes to being healthy. Take a look at some ideas that you can try out to be fit as you mature:

  • Stretching:  Older people can start a healthy lifestyle by doing plenty of stretching. This activity should be done every day in a low intensity setting to ensure that muscles are toned and conditioned. Stretching in the morning is the perfect way to get started on your work out for the week.
  • Walking: Walking is a free exercise that you can do at any time. Being older does not mean that you cannot benefit from walking in fact, age works in your favor because your joints and limbs are being used, and it is a comfortable exercise to do without exerting yourself too much. Integrate walking as an exercise in all parts of your life such as walking to the shop and walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  • Pilates:  Being in your senior years is the best time to start Pilates. Pilates gives seniors plenty in terms of flexibility which is crucial for older people especially to manage arthritis which can affect many older people. Pilates is more mainstream which makes it even easier to find it in your local gym and you can do it several times per week depending on availability.
  • Dancing: There are lots of types of dancing for older people that will ignite a passion for dancing frequently. Line-dancing and ballroom dancing are two styles of dancing that would suit older people because they are fun, inclusive and also allow them to meet new people.

Advantages of working out

As you become older, it is more important to work out because of slowing metabolism. This opens up older people to a world of exercise possibilities and a chunk of benefits for them. These good points about working out include:

  • Maintains a healthy heart: Exercises such as running keep your heart rate up and help you keep your heart in prime condition. This is especially important as you become older because your physical fitness is important to enjoying life. According to a report from the U.S. Surgeon General on physical activity and health, people who are not active are more likely to be susceptible to heart disease.  As this research highlights, being active is important for people for all ages, and older people are not exceptions to the rule. Keeping your heart in good shape is important for your entire wellbeing.
  • Keeps stress levels down: Exercise releases hormones that make you feel energetic and positive. Older people should try to keep stress levels down and exercise is one key to unlock a relaxed attitude for life.

Working out is an excellent option for older people because it adds a health and fitness dimension to the best time of life enjoying life experiences and having extra time for passions and pursuits.

Guest post by contributing author Linda Michelle. Linda’s currently representing Well Wisdom, who are the number one source for grass fed whey protein shakes. 

Preventing Falls by improving your Balance & Stability

While this post is for all ages to know, especially from a long-term preventative point of view, the core of this post is aimed at fixing a problem: that of loss of Balance and Stability especially in the Elderly.

How big is the problem:

While researching for my books, I’ve found plenty of information to indicate that falls among the elderly is a massive problem (one in 3 elders over the age of 65 falls each year, many getting hospitalized as a result).

Combined with osteoporosis, falls can lead to hip fractures. Hip fractures shorten life-expectancy (20% dying within the first year, and 2/3rds never regaining their original functionality/independence).

Loss of balance and stability is due to extensive muscle-loss (Sarcopenia being the medical term).

If you have a feeling that your balance and stability is not quite up to the mark, you will, in all likelihood, need some really quick muscle-building happening for you.

If, on the other hand, you are caring for someone who is losing balance and stability, you have your work cut out for you, mainly because, you need to:

a. convince your charge that they have the power to do something about it – instead of simply throwing their hands up in the air and succumbing to the inevitable ageing process- and,

b. convince your charge that they should exercise, plain and simple, and then, get them started, changing their habits to become persistent enough to obtain some gains in strength.

 

Pauline, I need help, we heard a quavering male voice call out, at one-thirty in the morning. Pauline, I need help.

At first I thought it was some drunk, though, in the quiet suburb we live in, not much of that sort of thing happens. The voice kept on calling out. Pauline, I need help.

Mate, where are you? my wife, Tanya, called out of our first floor bedroom window.

Corner of Rose and Wattle streets, called back the voice.

I dashed over in my pajamas, hoisted myself up to the top of the high wooden gate, and spied him, lying on his side beside the swimming pool, a bag of pool salts spilled next to him.

The ambulance was there within 20 minutes.

In the meantime, we awoke a fast-asleep Pauline, and got the story from Tony:

At around midnight, after playing games on his PC, deciding to salt the pool, Tony carried the bag down a couple of steps, then, as he was leaning over to put the bag down, toppled over, and couldn’t get up.

The paramedics confirmed that Tony had a broken femur.

 

Falls are something we need to be highly concerned about.

Falling, especially for older adults, can cause injuries like hip fractures and head injuries. Often, these fractures can lead to early death, for one of many causes: no one around to assist or hear the calls of the sufferer. For example, Tony could have toppled into the pool, and drowned. Or, if his voice had been ignored by Tanya and myself (as it was by all the other neighbours), he could have become another victim of exposure in the chill early spring night.

Everyday functions and activities require balance, stabilization and coordination and these factors directly affect our independence.

If you or your charge finds balancing is getting increasingly difficult, and there is a possibility of falling over, it’s time to address that problem right now, in fact, like yesterday.

What is Balance:

Balance is the ability to maintain a certain position over time, without moving. Your balance depends on: your centre of gravity and your base support. The lower your centre of gravity, and the larger your base support, the better your balance will be.

Lose balance and you could injure yourself in a fall. And fractures, at any age, are not something we welcome.

The muscles affected:

Your core muscles are small and larger muscles that wrap your body, from your abdominals, around your intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs) and around to your back.

There are other (and larger) muscles in the body that help you with balance: the legs (especially the quads or quadriceps) and the calves.

The solution to regaining your ability to stabilize and balance yourself is twofold:

  1. Taking Action (Exercise): to build your core muscles and your muscle strength.
  2. Improved Nutrition: to support the exercise.

As the muscles mentioned above are large masses of muscle, they have the potential to grow fast, given sufficient stimulus and a suitable supporting diet, thus providing a more solid foundation for you.

These muscles need to be engaged, to build up some degree of mass and then strengthen them.

 

One common tool used to help improve balance is the half-Bosu ball, an exercise ball specially cut in half, such that one side is flat and the other rounded. Stand on the exercise ball, using a strong support, and then try to let go of the support (or lean a little less heavily on the support while balancing on this rocking platform.) The small stabilizer muscles in your body start working to support your body, and over time build themselves up.

However, I believe in working the body as far as it will go, because the kind of stuff I teach challenges your muscles far more than the Bosu-ball exercises will. This kind of challenge results in greater and faster muscle growth and strength: exactly what I want for all my trainees.

 

Some exercises that will enhance your balance and stability:

(Having said that, many of our weaker charges may not be able to perform many of the below exercises due to advanced Sarcopenia, and will have to take these exercises in small doses (low repetitions, from 3 or 4 repetitions per set, and low sets, from 1 to 2 sets per session), beginning with short sessions twice a day. The aim is to build up to 4 sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise outlined below.)

At Home Exercises:

Squats: squatting/sitting into a chair, while holding onto the back of another chair for support and stability. This is a great leg quadriceps -builder. The Quads are the main working muscles for sitting/standing.

Haversack deadlifts for your lower and upper back

The haversack can be filled with bits and pieces from around the house, increasing the weight as the trainee gets stronger. The back and core muscles get challenged by this exercise as well as the legs.

Reverse axe swings work your core muscles, shoulder and upper back:

Pushups:

Start with the incline pushup, where you kneel on something soft, and perform the pushups against a heavy chair or lounge/sofa. This is the easiest of the pushups, but a great way to start building your upper chest strength.

Once you get stronger progress to kneeling flat pushups, and then, to full pushups (the same as the above, but on your toes instead of the knees).

 

Most women tend to find push-ups more than a mite challenging, but build up push-up strength with the above progression, and you will get stronger.

The plank is a great core exercise, and strengthens your back muscles as well as your abdominal and lower chest area, all regions we need to help keep us upright. The aim is to hold this position as long as possible, increasing the length of time you hold every time by a few seconds (build up to 2 minutes).

Now, the above exercises are challenging, to say the least, but it’s important to begin, begin slowly, with a few reps, a few sets per session, keeping them short, but a minimum of twice a day in the beginning (morning/evening) to stimulate your muscles into a speedy recovery.

You may need some support/assistance during the earlier parts of the exercise regime, but you will thank the stars that led you to this blog post later down the track.

Tackling your Nutrition:

My research indicates that, as we get older, our ability to process and metabolize protein diminishes drastically, the stuff that helps us build muscle. Hence, I recommend:

Increasing your protein intake to 2 gms per Kilogram bodyweight per day.

This is quite a high amount of protein to absorb through normal meals, and you may need supplementation in the form of protein powders (check online for bulk and cheaper sources of protein powders. I recommend the concentrate instead of the isolate from a price to utility point of view).

Always have your protein with some form of carbohydrate for better assimilation. Hence, meals like spaghetti bolognaise, whole eggs with wholemeal bread, and yogurt with oats help immensely in putting that muscle mass (and strength) back on.

Increase the number of your meals to 6 instead of 4 and reduce the portion size accordingly.

However, if my experience with elderly people is anything to go by, most older persons tend to eat less than more, so the danger is not in the overeating region.

The increase of meals helps keep the metabolism high, while utilizing the longer time-spread to help promote absorption of nutrients.

While the above solution may be quite commonly known, the most important part of the process is changing one’s mindset: that we each, whatever our age or level of strength, have the ability to take control of our current condition and improve it. We need to take action, consistent action to keep ourselves at the top of our game, and improve our Quality of Life, keeping ourselves strong, fit, healthy and independent.

Hence, the importance of the realization, for all of my readers today, be you a care-giver or yourself the care reciever, to take preventative action, long before sarcopenia hits and osteo raises its ugly head (though both sarcopenation of the muscles and osteoporosis are long processes).

As usual, I recommend talking to your medical expert before performing any of these exercises or changing your nutrition, so that s/he can gauge your individual fitness for the exercises recommended or the nutrition modification.

Wherever I recommend a fix for a problem, I emphasise that we, each of us, can turn our bodies (and more importantly, our selves: our minds and our spirits) from weakening, ageing mortals, to strong, independent, and fun-loving human spirits, free to live our lives as we please, and enjoy the best of it until the very end.

We do this by looking after our nutrition, and by challenging our bodies: firstly, at home, then progress to challenging our bodies more and more in the gym, where there is more resistance available for us, triggering our bodies to grow from every different angle, in every area of our musculature.

Those of the us of the Grey Generations who do not exercise with resistance ( and maybe only walk/stroll now and then, or even regularly), will mostly find that our muscle loss progresses as we age, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but definitely progresses. So at some stage, we may find that our balance and stability is compromised. The only solution to this is prevention: using resistance exercise to trigger our muscles to stay that way, or to get stronger, thus helping our balance and stability.

Our Balance and Stability is a key component of our ability to be independent and free, and if we work to build it up, and maintain it by consistent resistance exercise, as systematized in my books, we will find ourselves looking and feeling years and years, yes, decades younger than our actual age!

As the saying goes: Use it, or lose it.

Update: Here’s the ‘sister’ video on YouTube: Falls in the Elderly: Prevention & Cure

To your health, strength and ever-growing self-esteem.

Mel d’Rego.

Author Bio:

Mel d’Rego is the author of 3 Kindle books, the TurnBackTime/Rejuvenate Yourself series, books that provide a solid system for 40-70 year olds to become Strong, Healthy, Fast, Fitter, and Sexier, setting themselves up for a great Quality of Life during the Grey-Years before them.

(Download your copy of Mel’s Free Book to help you re-vitalize your Greying Years).

Mel lives with his wife and 3 children in Sydney, Australia.

Find Mel d’Rego on Google+