Finding a suitable training range as we get older
In our earlier article Exploring the benefits of being active daily we touched on the importance of being active, and maintaining an active lifestyle. This doesn’t mean a heavy training regime lifting barbells in a sweaty gym. The best part of exercise, is that it includes a variety of activities, some light on, and others more strenuous. This is ultimately up to you in what you’re looking for, and where your strength level is.
Finding the right training range for endurance exercises
Endurance exercises or activities should be performed at least 2 times per week. For optimal improvement in your heart and lungs and muscles, try 3 – 5 times per week. Your workout should be intense enough to make your heart beat faster and breathing to increase, but not so high as to over stress your system. This is your training zone. Try to work out in this range to get the most benefit out of your endurance exercises.
Examples of physical activity that meet the guidelines
Moderate intensity physical activities will cause older adults to get warmer and breathe harder and their hearts to beat faster, but they should still be able to carry on a conversation. Examples include:
- Brisk walking
- Ballroom dancing
- Water aerobics
- Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
- Doubles tennis
- Pushing a lawn mower
Vigorous intensity physical activities will cause older adults to get warmer and breathe much harder and their hearts to beat rapidly, making it more difficult to carry on a conversation. Some examples include:
- Climbing stairs
- Running or jogging
- Swimming fast
- Riding a bike fast or on hills
- Singles tennis
Activities to improve balance and co-ordination may include:
- Tai chi
Note: You may need to check in with your Doctor, if you have:
- Chest pain or pain in your left arm and neck
- Any shortness of breath
- A heart condition
- Any bone or joint problems
- If you are currently taking blood pressure or cardiac medications
- Any unexplained dizziness or fainting
Infographic: Physical activity benefits for adults and older adults
Still interesting in reading more on exercise, check out our blog on the 5 Myths about exercise and older adults
Word of caution if you’ve been inactive for some time
- Remember that with age, sudden intense exercise may be a challenge for your heart. Try to prepare your muscles with a 10 minute warm-up before exercising.
- Monitor yourself for overexertion, which is indicated by shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness or getting that shaky feeling. Make sure you listen to your body!
- Make sure you increase your activity level gradually. Only add 5% – 10% increase to any workout. Think “posture” as much as you can during your workout. Good posture will help protect your joints and prevent any unnecessary injuries.
- Practice good breathing. Never hold your breath. Try to breathe in through the nose and out the mouth. Train.
- Remember, exercises will only show benefits if it is done regularly with the correct duration, frequency, and intensity. “Practice makes… permanent!” So don’t practice sitting on the couch!
– Eldergym Senior Fitness, How do I Start With Exercises For The Elderly? June 2014. Read more
– Schrift D, Every Day Fitness for Seniors, 2010. Read more
– Infographic: Physical activity benefits for adults and older adults. UK Government, UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines 2011. View infographic
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