Timeless January-March 2022 - Page 24


Benefits of exercise in older adults

By Melessa Harmon Contributing Columnist
What if you did not have to take multiple medications or any medications at all ? What if you could get up and down off the floor without assistance ? What if you could simply walk and not worry about a tree root or crack in the sidewalk you have to step over ? So many “ what ifs …” The life-changing benefits that exercise has to offer should be enough to motivate everyone , at every age , to prioritize exercise . Life-changing benefits are especially important as we grow older .
“ As you grow older , if you don ’ t move , you won ’ t move .”
Yvonne Dowlen , 88-year-old figure skater
Let me repeat Dowlen ’ s quote : “ As you grow older , if you don ’ t move , you won ’ t move .”
Her powerful but honest words also remind me of a popular cliché we often hear , “ use it or lose it .” Absolutely true ! Mobility alone is impacted tremendously by our daily activity and exercise or lack of exercise , this should be enough to get you moving !
Improved mobility is only one benefit that
Harmon exercise positively effects . Other key benefits , to only name a few , in having a proper and consistent exercise regimen for older adults are as follows : The benefits include :
• Helps prevent diseases .
• Prevents deteriorating bone health .
• Increases balance , therefore decreases risks of falls . * Helps relieve pain for various ailments , such as osteoarthritis pain .
• Boosts Immunity .
• Improves mental health and mood .
• Helps reduce high blood pressure in those with hypertension .
• Helps reduce the chances of diabetes .
Introducing exercise
No matter your age , your workout should consist of aerobic / cardiovascular activity , strength training , and a flexibility routine . Keep in mind that you need to consider your limitations and current fitness level , it doesn ’ t matter how old you are .
You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you don ’ t need to spend hours at the gym or go for a long run . The thought of venturing into a workout program may seem daunting but shouldn ’ t be . Your exercise regimen is dependent on you — where you are at currently .
Things to consider
* When performing strength exercises increasing your reps to 12-15 . It is not recommended for older adults to max out with their weights , in most individuals .
• Especially if you ’ re beginning a new routine , start slow and give your body time to adjust to the movement .
• Low-impact exercises are ideal for older adults . Some examples are walking , strength training , stretching , yoga , Pilates , biking , and so forth .
• Simply increasing your daily activity can have tremendous , positive impacts on your overall health .
• Listen to your body . Yes , you need to challenge yourself , but it shouldn ’ t hurt .
• Workout with friends ! Join a class !
• Seek out a certified trainer .
The following routine is a basic routine and may not be recommended for all individuals . There are many factors to take into consideration when designing a program for somebody . If you are uncertain about how to develop an exercise routine , contact a certified personal trainer .
Example routine :
• Aerobic / Cardiovascular — Walk for 20-30 minutes , 5-7 days a week .
• Strength Training — Wall push-ups , front raises ( shoulders ), wall squats or regular squats , Around the World ( standing knee up , outer leg lift , glute squeeze , then switch sides ), 2-3 sets , 12-15 repetitions , 3-4 days a week .
• Stretching — Perform a 5-10 minute stretching routine , targeting your entire body . Daily preferred .
We are all at different fitness levels . You start at YOUR level . The most important thing that you can do is to start moving . Exercise plays a critical role in our quality of life . It is never too late to start but remember , the longer you wait , the harder it gets .
“ Fitness is about so much more than exercise . It ’ s a catalyst for positive changes , and it affects every aspect of your life .” Unknown
• Melessa Harmon is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor . You may contact her at melessa . harmon @ gmail . com