We’ve all heard that exercise is the fountain of youth. A recent study showed that out of 893 seniors around the age of 80, the most active had a lower risk of dying over the four-year study compared to the least active in the group.
But if you’re a senior, and want to begin exercising more, you may be worried about the potential harm of exercise. What if you fall and break a hip while bicycling or jogging? In other words, how active is too active?
Are there senior exercises I should avoid?
If you have certain medical conditions, specific types of exercise may be too risky for you. People with severe osteoporosis, for example, have brittle bones that can fracture easily. They should avoid high-impact activities that involve sudden jolts, twists, or turns, and those in which the risk of falling is likely.
Tennis, riding a bicycle, running, squash and golf can all have these risks. Try other exercises like yoga, tai chi or water aerobics which are gentler on joints and bones.
If you have a heart condition such as heart disease, or diabetes, a pulmonary condition that affects your ability to breathe, arthritis or have had a stroke, you should talk to your doctor to determine what kind of exercise is safe for you.
Your doctor will take into consideration your health conditions, medications, and other factors to help you identify the level of exercise that is good for you. Then get a training coach to design a workout plan that’s safe for you based on the plan you and your doctor have agreed upon.
Your coach will help you stay motivated in the beginning when changing old habits is the most difficult, and you can look forward to graduation day!
How can I stay safe while exercising?
Now that you have a plan and a coach, here are some tips to help keep exercise safe:
- Be sure to pace yourself, and balance high-intensity intervals with rest.
- If you feel pain during your workout, stop. Exercising should be challenging, but never painful.
- Don’t exercise when it’s too hot, cold, or humid. Move your workout indoors during adverse conditions.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration is a special risk for seniors, so drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
- If your exercise regimen is disrupted because of travel or the holidays, ease back into your workout routine.
- Listen to your body. If you’re too tired, thirsty, or sore, give yourself a chance to rest and heal.
Bend & stretch just a few minutes every day.
With the right medical advice, a coach and a plan that is safe, exercise is something that can keep you happy and healthy for the rest of your life.
Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies