Aging involves adapting to a variety of changes, and how we take care of our bodies is one of the most significant ones. We know the importance of staying physically active, but may not realize that the old tried-and-true exercise methods we’ve long employed need to be modified after age 50, thanks to an increase in injuries, pain in muscles and joints, and overall fatigue. For example:
- Resistance over cardio. While cardio exercise is definitely still key for heart health, resistance training is crucial to combat the natural decline in bone density and muscle mass. A recent study also linked weight training with enhanced memory, even when performed just once weekly for as little as 20 minutes. The goal should be to complete 12 repetitions of each set of resistance exercises several times each week, increasing the resistance level as it becomes easier to perform the exercises.
- Always warm up. Because of reduced elasticity in tendons that occurs later in life, warm-ups are essential. Stretching the muscles you’re preparing to exercise, along with a full body warm-up with light cardio such as a walk on the treadmill, is recommended, at least two or three times each week. Benefits include increased range of motion, elevated heart rate and body temperature and better preparation for the muscles that are about to be exercised.
- Switch to interval training. It’s recommended that interval training – high intensity exercise alternated with easier “rest” periods – provides a better benefit than a steady exercise pace to burn more calories and to enhance oxygen consumption.
- Increase rest days. Per Dr. David W. Kruse of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute, “You need to focus more on recovery after 50. Tissue recovery takes more time and more effort to support that recovery.” This may mean a couple of days in between workout sessions. Pay attention to any soreness experienced and the impact it’s having on your next workout to determine the best amount of time to rest in between.
Be sure to check with your physician for personal recommendations on effective exercise regimens, and if you have a client or loved one who could use assistance in providing the motivation, encouragement, and transportation needed to stick to an exercise program and optimize health, contact North River Home Care of Massachusetts at (781) 659-1366. Our professional caregivers are experienced in helping seniors optimize health and overall wellbeing, and we help make exercising, and any other activities, more enjoyable.