Many seniors think or act as if there aren't any programs, much less a category such as best fitness programs for older adults. In fact, sometimes the older a person is, willfully ignoring this subject is just one more of the many excuses they seem to have for putting off exercise entirely.
Sure, you may hear a few cracks and pops as you bend over, so you think that you’re likely to break something if you exert yourself to an even greater degree. You may get winded walking up a single flight of steps, so you reason that doing a step workout may give you a heart attack.
Then there’s those defeating misconceptions that older adults have no business in the gym, are too weak to complete an aggressive strength-training workout, and are more prone to injuries if they do try to stay active.
Before you give in to those belittling assumptions and limit yourself to a gentle walk around the block, let’s explore the best types of workouts that older adults can complete safely and successfully.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaborated with professionals from Tufts University to create a free book about strength training for older adults. The book highlights a three-phase system that starts out with bodyweight exercises and then progresses to light equipment like dumbbells. The final phase discusses ways for healthy adults to continue their progress with more aggressive forms of strength training.
In general, regarding the best fitness programs, the CDC recommends at least 75 minutes of aerobic exercise each week for older adults along with at least two days of strength training. They also recommend that older adults get in five hours of exercise each week plus strength training in order to enjoy the greatest benefits.
The AMA recommends a lighter exercise load of at least 30 minutes, five days per week; but, they acknowledge that many adults can do much more than that for even greater results.
Water aerobics is always a good option for older adults because it puts little to no pressure on your body. You can burn a lot of calories, elevate your mood, relieve stress, and even socialize a little while playing in the water and kicking your way to fitness.
Other water activities that can improve your health include swimming laps across a pool and kicking through laps while resting your upper body on a small float or pool noodle. When looking for the best fitness programs in water, you may consider taking aqua Zumba classes just to add a bit of fun to your water exercise.
Are you ready to cut a rug? Try formal dance lessons, or turn on the radio and dance in your living room. Dancing is an enjoyable way to burn some calories and one of the best fitness programs for any age.
If you don’t feel that your balance is good enough to ride a bicycle outdoors, invest in a recumbent bike or head to the gym to find one. Once you start biking regularly, you may begin to feel up for a beginner’s spin class as one of the best fitness programs for you. With time, you may hang in the more aggressive spin classes with those youngins’.
Bicycling is easier on the knees and ankles compared to other forms of exercise.
Any type of walking will help you stay in shape, but don’t let your age fool you into keeping a slow pace. Pump your arms at your side, and pick it up a few beats.
You may want to start out walking as fast as you can for a few seconds and then slowing your pace for a minute or two (this is known as interval training), but before long, you’ll be speed walking the mall like a bolt of silver lightning.
Dancing is great for coordination, balance, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning. It creates a fun social environment. So, get on those dancing shoes!
Regardless of what cardio exercises you do, make sure that you’re including some form of strength training at least two times a week as part of any fitness programs for older adults. This can be as simple as doing push-ups and other body-weight exercises at home, or you may seek out a personal trainer for guidance. A visit to a gym will give you access to professionals willing to guide you as well.
If you’re in good shape and have adequate muscle tone, there’s no reason that you can’t hit the gym, participate in that charity 5K, or complete a variety of strength-training and cardio workouts at home. In fact, the more of these exercises that you do, the more likely you are to stay fit, flexible, and mentally alive as you continue along the path of natural aging.
Do what you can do today, and your abilities will increase for tomorrow.