March 27, 2010
Misconception: Older adults are weak and their level of energy inevitably declines.
Research shows that regular exercise provides the same benefit for elderly people as it does for younger individuals. If you are over 55 years old, simply implementing regular exercise can prevent and, in most cases, reverse almost half of the physical deterioration normally associated with getting older. So, why is it that less than 10 percent of people who have retired exercise more than 3 times per week?
The area of fitness that you should focus on the most is strength training. When you are younger, the majority of your workout schedule should consist of aerobic exercise. As you get older, the ratio of aerobic exercise to strength training sessions should flip-flop. Training with weights will improve your level of strength, balance, and flexibility. This results in reducing your risk of falls and fractures.
This is unbelievable: If you strength train regularly for one full year, you can take 15 to 20 years off your physical condition!! Aging is often perceived as the enemy. Reality - It is physical inactivity that is the true enemy. By not keeping yourself active, even at age 30, you will notice your muscles getting smaller and weaker.
FACT: By not regularly including strength exercise in your workout regimen, you will lose up to one-half pound of muscle every year of life after age 25. This can not only effect your physical capabilities later in life, but will also cause you to gain weight. Muscle is a very active tissue with high-energy requirements. At rest, your muscles are responsible for over 25% of your calorie expenditure. Thus, increasing the amount of muscle tissue in your body results in a corresponding increase in the number of calories your body will burn, even at rest.
Do you have a hard time making yourself go to the gym to get in your workout? Why not get involved with a senior activity that requires you to be social while incorporating your physical activity? The National Senior Games Association provides opportunities for adults over the age of 50 to participate in athletic competition.
***Before beginning activity, please schedule a visit with your primary physician. Talk with him or her about the activity.
Written by: Laura S. Garrett, RD -- Registered Dietitian & ACE Certified Personal Trainer
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