Why Is Exercise So Important For Senior Health?
According to CA personal trainer Deanna Nosel, there’s a dangerous misconception that exercise is hazardous for seniors, or that they’re likely to injure themselves.
“The irony is that working out is most important at this stage of life,” says Nosel. “Our bodies were created to move. When we become sedentary and stop moving in ways which require physical effort, we feel it. That’s when our health declines and daily aches and pains set in.”
Essentially, exercise is vital to maintaining a high quality of life as we age. Research shows that regular physical activity improves heart health, energy levels, mood, quality of sleep and cognitive function, while also relieving some of the pain of chronic conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis.
Best of all? Working out helps you stay independent well into your golden years, while lowering your risk of falls. And in the age of COVID-19, it also gives you an essential immune boost so that your body can fight off infections more quickly and easily.
Benefits of physical activity
While seniors do need to take a few precautions to work out safely, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks. Even if certain conditions have already developed — such as heart disease, diabetes or Parkinson’s — physical activity can help to minimize symptoms and extend your independence.
CA personal trainer Debbie Cohen, who works with clients well into their 90s (including those with canes and walkers), said people often quickly learn that they’re not as limited as they thought.
“It’s amazing how much they can do, even after surgeries and injuries,” she says. “Just after a few simple stretches to get the heart beating and the body warm, people remark on how good and positive they feel from a little movement.”
For this reason, Cohen recommends that seniors include a mix of balance, flexibility, strength and cardiovascular exercises in their routine to reap the full range of positive effects — like improvements in blood pressure, better joint and bone health, increased range of motion and a lowered risk of heart disease.
Ready to get moving? Here’s a few quick tips to get started safely:
- Make sure you have proper eyewear. Weak eyesight is one of the most common causes of falls, so it’s essential to get glasses if you need them.
- Wear supportive, comfortable shoes that fit well. Your feet and joints will thank you!
- Stay well-hydrated. Due to age-related changes in total body water and thirst perception, older adults are more prone to dehydration, so it’s important to be proactive about getting enough water throughout the day.
- Find a workout buddy. Having a partner is great for keeping you motivated and accountable….plus, it’s just plain fun to have a friend join you!
- Know your limits. To prevent injury, it’s essential to pace yourself and not to overdo it. This means listening to your body over your ego. Easier said than done, we know, but always worth it.
Finally, you may want to consider working with a personal trainer to receive expert, one-on-one guidance. Even if it’s just for a few sessions, a trainer can help make sure your routine is as safe and effective as possible. There’s no guesswork involved — your trainer will personalize a program based on your unique needs and goals, make sure you have proper form and offer real-time modifications.
To help you find the right fit, Nosel offered a few key questions you can ask a prospective trainer:
- What is your training style?
- What types of clients do you mostly train?
- What is your availability?
- How long is a typical session, and what does it look like?
- Will you write out the program created for me so I can keep it?
- Is it possible to create a program I can use at home? (if this is an interest of yours!)
- What safety precautions are taken when training during COVID-19?
Personal training at CA
With CA, you can choose from more than 30 skilled personal trainers across three fitness clubs. Private hour and half-hours sessions (both in-person and virtual) are available to fit your schedule and budget. Plus, you can kick things off with a free consultation. Learn more here.