Regular exercise is important at any age. However, for seniors, keeping physically fit can provide numerous benefits, from helping the body fight specific illnesses to improving both physical and mental health more generally. But, whatever your age, getting started with exercise can seem like a daunting prospect, especially if you have certain medical conditions that hinder physical activity. In the first of our senior exercise series, we tackle fitness from a beginners point of view and provide some essential advice to help you get started on your road to fitness:
Go for a Check Up
Seeing your doctor is the first thing to do when starting a new exercise regime. This is so they can assess your current physical fitness level and determine whether engaging in more exercise is the right thing for you. Additionally, if you have any medical conditions that may impact you while exercising, this is something your doctor will be able to help you with and advise you on in regards to the amount of exercise you can do. Common conditions like heart disease can greatly affect exercise, so it is always best to check with your doctor not only how much physical activity you should be doing, but also, what exercise is right for you.
Set some Goals
Before you begin your new fitness regime, consider whether there are any particular goals you want to achieve through exercise. Would you like to lose weight or perhaps build up your strength? Whatever your aim, making this clear from the start will help you tailor your exercises to achieve these specific goals as well as motivating you to do them. A great system to work to when setting goals is SMART, an acronym that stands for:
Working by this system will not only help you reach your goals but also enable you to check back and make sure you are continuing to work with a regime that will help you achieve them!
Track your Progress
It’s often easy to forget how far you’ve come when exercising and some days, you may need a little reminder to boost your motivation. As such, it is a great idea to have something in place that will help you monitor your progress. This could range from technological devices such as a pedometer or a FitBit which digitally tracks your progress, to more traditional methods such as a fitness journal, where you can write down what exercise you did and how you felt afterwards. The benefits of exercise are rarely immediate and, at times, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. However, keeping note of your progress will certainly help to spur you on!
Pick a Venue
A gym is where most people prefer to exercise as here, they are provided with the appropriate equipment needed to perform certain exercises and can access professional help in the form of personal trainers if needed. However, lots of people also like to workout at home, where it is private and they feel comfortable. If you’d like to exercise at a gym, get in touch with your local gym to find out about their opening hours and whether they provide any form of special exercise for the elderly, e.g. balance classes. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to undergo your new fitness regime at home, make sure you have the proper equipment and have expert advice before you do so from either your doctor or a local personal trainer.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Appropriate clothing can make a lot of difference when exercising and can help you avoid feeling restricted. Be sure to wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing that will enable your body to sweat but remain cool while undergoing physical activity. Similarly, the right footwear is essential for completing your exercises comfortably; trainers are the best footwear, but for those who cannot or do not like to wear them, flat pumps are the next best thing. For women, a sports bra can also make a big difference when exercising by providing upper-body support, especially for large-chested women. A sports bra should be tight fitting but not stretched and replaced once it has lost its elasticity.
Drink and Eat the Right Things
Finally, staying hydrated is vital to help your body function while exercising and to ensure you do not become exhausted too quickly. Consequently, drinking water is the fastest way to hydrate your system, but other fresh beverages such as squash or fruit juices are also good to drink after exercise to help get your sugar levels back up. Similarly, eating fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables will help your body regain nutrients, while meat and fish will provide the protein needed by the body after exercise.
Are you a senior embarking on a new exercise regime? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know how you are getting on via our social media channels or for more information and advice concerning exercise, please visit our health page.