Okay, you’re old. I am too, so don’t take offense. I have been where you are in life, and, perhaps a little bit longer than you have. I have also been studying about exercise, and, actually exercising for years, starting long before I became ‘old’.
Quite often, it’s not the exercise itself that presents a huge hurdle to an older person. After all, we’ve faced, and conquered, many things in our lifetimes.
No, often, the exercise itself is not the problem.
Actually, the biggest problem for anyone contemplating some sort of senior exercise plan, is the same one faced by younger folk.
It’s hard to keep working on a project when you can’t see any real progress. It’s even harder when you are not sure what ‘progress’ really means.
Well, I am not going to give you facts and figures about how many minutes, how many times a week, how much weight, and so on. A lot of that is going to depend on who you are, where you are at in your fitness journey, where you want to go, and what sort of exercise you choose… just to name a few issues.
First of all, let’s eliminate those who don’t need to read this.
If you are exercising in hopes of participating in some sport or fitness activity, you probably don’t need to be reading this. You are going to be exercising at a level far above the person just trying to be healthy and live longer.
If you have specific health needs or problems, and are exercising to meet them, while this little essay may give you thought, you really need to follow the guidance of the health care professional you are working with.
If you are an ordinary person wanting to remain healthy, stay fit, and, perhaps, prolong your life, read on. We are not going to achieve final conclusions, but, we are going to touch on a couple of concepts.
There are two major forms of exercise you need to consider:
1. Strength training
2. Cardiovascular conditioning
Why didn’t I include flexibility exercises?
Well, flexibility is important, and, if you can work it in, I do recommend it. However, many seniors are going to find that getting the exercise they need in the two areas I mention may not leave them time, energy, or inclination to add the extra. Also, I have found that if you are doing the two I mentioned, you will probably experience improvements in flexibility anyway.
One way to cover strength and flexibility is to practice yoga. But, you will still need to include some sort of cardiovascular exercise.
There’s the dilemma.
Almost any particular form of exercise will be good for one area or the other, but, getting both benefits from it often demands additional time and effort.
Fortunately, someone beginning a senior exercise program is not going to have to reach the levels of a younger exerciser.
Some experts have said you need to walk 10,000 steps a day. Others say you need 10 minutes of exercise a day. Some want you to lose 10 lbs. Still others want you to get an hour and a half of exercise a week.
Most find that aiming for one of these makes it difficult to meet the others.
It can really be a buzzkill to try to regularly get in all the exercise you think you ought to get. Once you begin to doubt if your exercise plan is doing any good, the motivation tends to seep away.
First of all, recognize that some exercise daily, especially in a senior exercise program, is better than having a few, scattered, intense exercise sessions at specific times and places.
Second, blending strength training and cardiovascular activity can create a sort of holistic exercise experience. In other words, do some of one, and then some of the other. While for cardiovascular benefits, it might be best to put several minutes of exercise together, doing some strength training now, and some aerobic activity later will work well for the older exerciser… if it’s done regularly.
Finally, doing something is better than doing nothing… as long as you do not try to do too much at any one time. Since “doing something” can include gardening, swimming, doing the laundry, cutting the grass, or lifting weights, you can combine pleasant activities, necessary activities, and just plain exercising to get the amount of exercise you need for health and fitness.
As I said at the start, my intention is not to give you minutes and measures, but to give you ideas for senior exercise motivation. Knowing you can get it done without overdoing it is a good first step.