In this day and age, it often feels like there is a new workout trend every week. Celebrities boast about their regimented exercise routines, fitness influencers post hundreds of workouts per year, and workout studios advertise their intense workout classes for weight loss. Although it is wonderful to have so many options for physical fitness, many of these programs are geared towards people under the age of 50. However, older adults still need regular physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle and help prevent negative health outcomes.
An article published in BioMed Research International emphasizes the importance of exercise for older adults. Regular physical activity is associated with improvements in mental health, emotional, psychological, and social well-being and cognitive function. Exercise can also minimize the risk of falling, which can lead to serious injuries for older adults. Further, regular physical activity can even help decrease the risk of death due to heart disease.
In order to reap the benefits of exercise and reach a high level of cardiovascular fitness, experts recommend that older adults remain physically active for 6 months or more. However, exercise for adults over 50 will often look different than fad exercise programs for younger individuals.
Check out these three tips for getting the most out of your workout and staying safe while exercising as an older adult:
Focus on balance training and stability
When we are children, slipping and falling is not usually anything to worry about. As we age, however, falling becomes a larger concern and can lead to serious injuries. Because of this, it is very important to incorporate balance training into your workouts, and it is never too early to start focusing on balance and stability. A 2015 study analyzed the impact of a 12-week balance training program on older adults, and researchers found that regular balance training improves balance control, fall-related self-efficacy, fear of falling, walking speed, physical function and can readily be modified to suit different conditions.
Balance training includes exercises such as marching in place, balancing on one leg, and standing on unstable surfaces, such as a Bosu Ball or sand. Be sure to always have a spotter when doing these exercises and always consult with a professional before beginning any new fitness program.
Include endurance training in your fitness routine
According to the Harvard Medical School, the average man’s attainable heart rate declines by approximately one beat per minute each year. This means that your average heart rate declines by around 5-10% per decade and your heart cannot pump as much blood as it could in the past. However, research shows that exercise can slow down the negative effects of aging on cardiovascular health.
Endurance training is the most effective way to improve cardiovascular function. Essentially, endurance training can help you gain back the cardiovascular function that you lose naturally as you age, and it also has other great benefits, such as improved sleep, lowered blood pressure, and cholesterol, and can even help fight neurological signs of aging. Try endurance activities like bike riding and walking to stay in shape as you age!
Choose workouts that are low-impact and easy on your joints
While lack of exercise can lead to stiff joints and worsen conditions like arthritis, high-impact training like running and jumping can also negatively impact joint health. Instead, choose low-impact workouts like water aerobics, biking, yoga, and elliptical training.
According to the Mayo Clinic, low-impact exercises, specifically water aerobics, can help improve heart health, decrease stress, and improve muscular endurance and strength. Exercising in the water is a great way to ensure you are safely working your muscles because water offers a natural resistance but it also takes the pressure off of your bones and joints. Further, using low-impact machines like the elliptical can help you work your arms and legs at the same time without hurting your joints.
A good rule of thumb for exercising at any age is to consult with a professional before beginning any new kind of exercise, do not workout alone in case you injure yourself, and listen to your body. If something feels too difficult or uncomfortable, stop immediately.