-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
With all the different health programs advertised on the television and on the internet, it is hard to choose which program is the best, especially when so many health experts seem to preach to us everyday, apparently knowing what is best for us and pledging to make our lives better.
Unfortunately, what the health experts do not do is distinguish a man in his mid twenties from a man in his mid-eighties and obviously these two examples are on the opposite end of the spectrum when it come to fulfilling their heath needs. However, there are some general guidelines to adhere to when they do undertake some form of exercise.
For seniors exercise is extremely beneficial. Gentle exercise will serve to loosen the joints and warm the body up, which may keep ailments such as arthritis at bay temporarily. It will, however, keep you active and able to get around in the longer term.
However, their age means that they are not as supple as they used to be and thus will cause pain when moved, which in turn encourages the senior in question to sit for another period of time. It is an unending vicious circle that can potentially take away an individual’s freedom of movement. Exercise can therefore work wonders for a senior. 20 minutes of exercise three times a week is the recommended amount for seniors, from the age of 65 and above. However, there is no generic amount that applies to everyone.
Whilst 20 minutes every day may be good for some seniors, twenty minutes over a period of a week is better for others. You know your capabilities better than anyone else and thus are perhaps better equipped to decide what form your exercise plan should take.
Even if you choose not to exercise every day, you should at least walk around the house or venture into the yard a couple of times just to stay mobile. The effort is ultimately worth it, no matter how painful it may be, if you can still move. Too many seniors give up their freedom as soon as movement becomes too painful by resolving not to move or to remain in bed. This is exactly the opposite of the attitude you should take.
The best form of exercise for seniors are gentle activities that will not jar the bones and muscles and will not put too much strain on the body. Swimming and walking are perfect activities for seniors. Both gently exercise the muscles without using too much energy, and they can be as gentle or as strenuous as you wish to make them.
The main thing that seniors should remember when they are undertaking physical activity is to be sensible. It is easy to push yourself too hard without building up your stamina and endurance first, but everything should progress nice and slowly. Physical fitness does not happen overnight, especially if you have been inactive for a period of time before you begin to get fit. Learn to walk before you can run, as the proverb says, and you won’t go far wrong!