Seniors Guide – Getting Back Into the Exercise Habit
The term “senior citizen” can vary in meaning depending on who you’re talking to.
Suffice it to say that if you are in your 60s, 70s, or 80s, you have reached a senior position as far as age is concerned. As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass and strength.
In order to enjoy this special time of your life to your fullest, exercise can be a way to regain your physical strength, mobility and independence.
Your desire to begin regular exercise may however get derailed by a common human trait – most people are creatures of habit.
If you haven’t been exercising for years, perhaps decades, your body and mind are going to resist your physical fitness efforts.
That is only natural.
Even though old habits are hard to break, the good news is that you can make new ones.
21 Days for Habit Formation
Research shows that roughly 3 weeks is all that is required for a daily activity to become an unconscious habit.
Depending on the person, getting back into the habit of exercise could take shorter or longer than 21 days.
So if you aim for repeating your exercise habits for 30 days, you will probably be successful in changing your physical fitness efforts from conscious behaviors to an unconscious and welcome routine.
Focus on the Rewards, Not the Work
Another way to develop good exercise habits is to remember an old saying that is still used in the southeastern United States. “You catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.”
This simply means that positive motivation works better than negative motivation.
Keep your mind on the rewards that regular exercise will offer you.
You will become stronger, more mobile, better balanced and flexible, which means that your independence and self-esteem will improve.
Perhaps you are exercising so you can spend more time playing with your grandchildren.
Maybe you are unhappy with the way you look physically, or you have a goal of losing X number of pounds.
Whatever the reasons for your personal interest in getting back in the exercise habit, focus on the rewards you are seeking rather than the physical exercise itself for a better chance at success.
Change up Your Routine
One of the most common complaints of exercise is that it quickly becomes boring.
Performing the same routine or movement, the same number of times, the same way, at the same time of the day can quickly become dull and uninteresting.
Make exercise a variety of different activities. Include tennis, walking, aerobics classes and body weight training.
Perform yoga one day, Pilates the next, and follow that up with some cycling.
Keep your exercise routine interesting and diverse, and you will look forward to your new exercise habit.
Weight Training Tips for the Over 60s
Weight training is the most common form of exercise focused on improving your strength.
It is so efficient for overall body health that everyone should include some weight training in their weekly routine.
Up to 72 hours after you workout with weights, your body is still burning calories, carbohydrates and fat.
That means weight training is excellent for regulating a healthy body weight. It also improves your cardiovascular health, has been linked to fighting depression and stress, and leads to personal independence through better flexibility and balance.
If you are over 60 years of age, consider the following weight training tips to limit your risk of injury, and to reap the most benefits.
Test the Water before You Jump Into the Pool
Have you ever dipped your big toe into pool water to check the temperature?
That’s the same thing you need to do here. You don’t want to jump in with both feet and immediately adopt a demanding weight training routine. Take it slow.
Start off with very light weights, and low repetitions and numbers of sets.
You are probably naturally weaker than when you were young.
You can change that effectively with weight training, but you need to start off slow to avoid injury, gradually picking up the pace over time.
“What’s Up, Doc?”
That favorite saying of Bugs Bunny applies well to anyone 60 or over that wants to take up weight training.
You should consult your physician before you start lifting weights.
There could be some underlying health condition you suffer from that you do not know about.
Weightlifting is a strenuous exercise, putting pressure on not only your physical body, but your respiratory and cardiovascular systems as well.
So check with your doctor before you start a weightlifting program. (This tip applies to anyone, regardless of age.)
Never Lift by Yourself
Unless you are performing simple biceps curls with light weights, you need a spotter.
Injuries in the weight room happen on a regular basis.
If a serious injury should occur, having someone around to help pull a weight off of you or call for help could turn out to be a life-saving precaution.
This is easily done when you practice the next weightlifting tip for the over 60 crowd.
Aside from acting as a spotter, your partner can provide much-needed motivation when you don’t feel like working out. In turn, you can do the same for your partner.
This also adds a nice social element to your weight training.
If you travel to a gymnasium to strength train, this allows you to take turns driving, cutting down on the cost of fuel for your vehicle.
4 Fitness Tips for Seniors
A lot of seniors fall into a very dangerous mindset where they assume that because they are too old, that they can’t get into shape.
While it is undeniable that it is easier to get into shape when you are younger, older people can still get into shape and make themselves healthier.
In fact, doctors have consistently recommended that older people do try to get into shape because it can help with long-term mobility issues.
In order to help any seniors who want to get fit or relatives who want to help the seniors in their family get fit, here are some fitness tips that make exercising for seniors a lot easier.
Exercise Needs to Be Done Daily
A lot of people don’t exercise daily, some because they don’t have the time to do so, others because they have to take days off to let their body rest.
Younger people are able to do that because the exercises that they do are intense enough to allow them to still get fit.
However, for seniors, it is absolutely essential that they exercise every single day.
This is due to the fact that seniors’ bodies need daily movement to get their bodies readjusted to exercising.
This is probably pretty obvious to most of you out there, but we are going to say it anyway just to be clear. Seniors need to start with very slow exercises.
Eventually, once their bodies have gotten stronger and more used to exercising, they can move on to more intense exercises.
However, until that time, stick to very slow exercises like simple aerobics, slow walking, or lifting very light (2 to 3 lbs.) dumbbells.
Water Based Exercises Are Your Friend
Water-based exercises, particularly water aerobics, are extremely helpful for seniors.
Not only is this because they tend to be easy to do, but also because the water helps lower the strain on the muscles, which helps to prevent soreness.
Another aspect to consider is that many places tend to offer cheap and accessible water aerobics classes specifically for seniors, so it is an easy way to get into exercise.
Exercise in Pairs or Groups
Because of the increased risk that something can go wrong, older seniors should never exercise alone. If they go for a walk or a jog, it should be with a partner or in a big group.
The same logic applies to other exercises like weightlifting.