It’s time for another Austin-area sports medicine 101 class!
As a person ages, metabolism slows down, muscle strength declines, bone density decreases and the heart pumps less blood with each beat. Many seniors take this as a sign that exercise isn’t in the cards for them, but what they may not realize is that physical fitness is one of the best ways to fight the aging process. Maintaining a physically active life can help seniors with weight control, keeping up flexibility and balance, bettering sleep habits, feeling happier and keeping the brain active.
The Austin sports medicine team at Medicine in Motion is committed to assisting patients of all ages and activity levels improve their quality of life, so they’ve put together a list of five tips for seniors who are interested in pursuing a fitness regimen for total body health.
- Find an activity that is enjoyable. Just like their younger counterparts, seniors are less likely to stick to a fitness routine if they aren’t having fun. To help make the experience more enjoyable, seniors can seek out fitness opportunities that match their interests, invite a friend for companionship, join a group session and meet new people, or incorporate their favorite music into the activity.
- Start slow. For seniors who haven’t exercised for an extended period of time, slow and steady is the key to begin. It’s very likely that excitement and renewed energy will occur with the new routine, but older adults should be careful not to do too much too quickly due to risks of injuries. Seniors should slowly find their pace over several sessions and then make small incremental goals for improvement.
- Don’t dwell on the past. Many older adults were involved in fitness activities in previous years, but they shouldn’t let that define their new activity levels. It’s natural to want to recapture one’s personal speed, strength or flexibility records, but seniors should focus on their current levels and make new goals.
- Consider a trainer. For older adults who are beginners or who have been absent from the gym for many years, having someone to guide them often makes a world of difference. Personal trainers can assist seniors in learning proper techniques to avoid injuries; and they can also make the gym seem a lot less overwhelming. Inquire about the trainer’s education, certification and history with elderly or first-time clients.
- Add physical fitness to daily routines. Don’t limit physical activity to scheduled workouts. Find ways to bring fitness into everyday life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Seniors can do their own housecleaning. Sweep the porch and sidewalk. Keep a pair of light weights handy to use when watching television or talking on the phone. Stretch or practice balancing when waiting in the grocery store line. Opportunities for physical fitness are everywhere!