Exercise Tips for Seniors

January 21, 2012

This is a guest post by Finley Crest.

One of the keys to feeling better is to get in good physical shape, and stay that way. If you adopt this philosophy when you’re young, and stick to it, you’ll increase your chances of being able to enjoy a long, healthy life. The longer you wait to start an exercise program, the harder it will be to do the things that are necessary to get in shape. However, it’s never too late to start–even a moderate exercise program will most likely make you feel better. Following are a few exercise tips for seniors.

First Things First

Before you start exercising, you should see your doctor. This is especially true if you’ve led a sedentary lifestyle up to this point, or have neglected to keep up with an exercise program. Tell your doctor you’d like to get in better physical shape, and ask them to make sure you’re in good enough condition to begin a program. They may even be willing to make a few suggestions about the type of exercise you should engage in.

Alone, or With a Group

Not everyone is cut out to join a gym and work out in front of a lot of other people, or engage in group exercise programs. Some people prefer to get their exercise by themselves, or with one or two other people. You will have to decide the type of environment you’ll be most comfortable with. It may be necessary to try it both ways before you can determine which method works best for you.

Start Slow

It is important to start your exercise regimen slowly, especially if you haven’t been physically active for awhile. Jumping right into hard physical exercise without allowing your body to get used to the activity first can be detrimental, as well as physically painful. You could pull or strain a muscle and end up not being able to exercise for an extended period of time, which would be worse than doing nothing at all. Instead you should enter a physical exercise program with the intention of making slow, steady progress toward getting your body in good shape. An old adage may say it best–you have to learn to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. If you’re not in good shape, but want to get that way, keep in mind that your body is like an infant–the muscles need to develop before they can be used to run a marathon.

Set Short-Term Goals

Whether your intention is to be able to run a marathon or simply feel better, an exercise program works best if you set goals along the way. When you begin exercising, it may be helpful to have an ultimate goal in mind, such as being able to walk five miles, or jog for 30 minutes without stopping–but don’t try and reach those goals too quickly. Instead you should set short-term goals that may help you achieve your ultimate goal. If your intention is to be able to walk 10 miles, but you haven’t walked for more than a couple hundred feet in years, then trying to cover 10 miles will not only wear you out, but overexertion could cause extensive physical damage. Set a goal of walking a 1/4 mile the first day, and increase that distance every few days. Your muscles will become conditioned to the exertion, and before long walking 1/4 of a mile won’t strain you at all–then you can increase your goal to a mile, and work up to that point. As you attain each short-term goal you’ll be one step closer to achieving your ultimate goal.

Leave Bad Habits Behind

If you’d like to achieve your ultimate goal even quicker, you may have to make some additional changes to your lifestyle. It has long been known that the best way to become healthy and stay that way is to eat right and get plenty of exercise. Now that you’ve decided to exercise, you may have to leave some bad habits behind, including eating unhealthy foods. That daily trip to the freezer for a bowl of ice cream may have to stop, or at least cut down the portion. Instead of eating red meat every day you may have to eat fish or chicken a few times a week. Fruits and vegetables should become a regular staple at mealtime.

Other bad habits that have nothing to do with food may also have to be addressed. Long periods of inactivity in front of the television may have to be replaced by long walks. Instead of driving a couple of blocks to the store or the post office, take a walk and enjoy the fresh air. No matter what your physical condition is, the more you use your muscles, the better you’ll feel. Just don’t overdo it.

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