Why Seniors Need Tailored Exercise
As we get older, there is an increased likelihood that we will have a health or body challenge that will respond positively to exercise.
It may take the shape of a chronic condition, for example, Type 2 Diabetes, heart dysfunction, osteoporosis, arthritis, COPD, cancer; or it may come under the heading of biomechanical problems, such as chronic lower back pain, joint problems, etc.
By the time we reach 50, any damage and/or poor management of our body from the past start to manifest. It may be systemic, affecting the internal working of organs, skeletal structures and/or circulatory pathways, or it may be the result of poor biomechanics, poor posture and dwindling muscle mass.
Just as important as the extension of life, is the quality of the extended life. Between the ages of 50 and 70, it is essential to introduce specific exercises and to adhere to them diligently, most importantly progressive resistance training. From our early 40s, our muscle mass is slowly being eroded, and the process escalates as we age unless we introduce special measures to reduce the loss.
This does not mean bodybuilding like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but weights that you can start with right now, doing what you are capable of, and progressively increasing as you become stronger. It is important to get assistance in finding out what weights you should be doing and how you must do them, how often for you specifically and when you should increase what you are doing.
Progressive Resistance Training
Exercise requirements swing upside down once we reach 50, with strength exercise becoming number one, followed closely by flexibility/pliability and cardiorespiratory exercise.
Why the change? We need to halt age-related muscle loss! This muscle loss may be so slow that we will not notice it when we do our activities of daily life.
Weakness only manifests when we try to do something we used to do easily and then, one day, we go to do it and find it extraordinarily hard. The slow decline in our available muscle lulls us into complacency and this is why it is essential to do our strength exercise in the form of progressive resistance training (PRT).
Strength training helps send back powerful messages to the brain which enhance our ability to stand upright instead of sinking into a posture more associated with old age. It allows us to shift the weight of the body from one leg to the other safely when we move. This improved posture, combined with stable joints and toned muscles, makes falls less likely.
Strength exercises can be done in various ways, for example using bodyweight only, with bands or stretchy cables, by using equipment designed to provide a range of resistance, and with free weights. The most important aspect of strength exercise is that it must be able to be increased incrementally to stimulate a body response to make more muscle tissue. If the resistance is not increased, the benefit of doing the exercise will diminish.
It is important to seek medical approval and professional help before undertaking any exercise routine, as individual needs will vary.