Safety First for Seniors Fitness
With 70% of people over 60 in the US not doing enough exercise many are not so much growing old gracefully as growing old unhealthily. However, with exercise combating many of the physical signs of ageing, promoting longevity and lowering risks for many diseases, what’s not to love about keeping fit? However, as you age there’s a need for caution and awareness when exercising too. So, before you jump right in take into consideration how your age and capabilities might influence what exercise you do and how you do it safely.
If you believe that age is just a number then that kind of positive thinking will get you far. However, the fact is that as you age your body inevitably starts to find mobility, activities and physical performance more challenging. Although there are plenty of fit older men and women who can stand their own against people half their age. The crucial factor is that when it comes to keeping fit and healthy as you get older it needs to be a case of checking that you follow tips for putting safety first!
Doctor’s thumbs up
If you are dealing with a medical condition such as Type II diabetes, then you need medical clearance from your doctor before you get stuck into an exercise routine. Check what level of activity is recommended too.
Be body and ailment aware
You should know your body pretty well by now so don’t turn down the volume and ignore what it’s trying to tell you when you start exercising. Is an old injury flaring up and causing you pain, or do you feel uncomfortable with a specific exercise? Listen and respond.
Exercise with a fitness friend
This extends to lots of activities. You don’t want to fall or hurt yourself and not have someone who can help you. A fitness buddy or community can be a source of great motivation too. A supportive exercise environment with fitness professionals, such as we offer, is ideal.
You’re never too old to learn. Just because you’ve reached a certain age, doesn’t mean you are wiser about what style of fitness works for you. Trained exercise experts can monitor how a workout is working for you and make sure you’re not doing something that is going to put you at risk.
Posture and proper movement
As your body changes your posture can suffer. As your flexibility and mobility become affected there is the danger that when you do exercise that you’re not in the best position. Moving through exercises without the correct posture and alignment is putting a strain on your body in the wrong way, which could lead to strains and sprains
You’re more likely to get dehydrated
Even if you’re not really going for it during an intense workout, you still need hydration. Make sure you have water before, during and after exercise. The older you are the more at risk of dehydration you are. Your body cannot conserve water in the same way and your sense of thirst is not as strong either. Even if you don’t feel like a drink, ask yourself when you last had some water.
Exercises which help your balance are great as you get older, especially so you can minimize the risk of taking a tumble. When you’re exercising keep your eyes open and don’t close them or you may start to feel disorientated. Don’t make sudden jerky movements either as this may pull a muscle and also knock you off balance. If you have to get up and down make sure you have the right support and use slow, measured movements.
Whatever age you are, exercise should be about safety, otherwise your fitness can be set back further than when you started. It is the foolish beginner who doesn’t heed warnings and the more developed and professional people are about fitness the more they understand the importance of safety first.
Diana Nyad has become the first person to swim the 100+ miles across the Straits of Florida between Cuba and Florida, after a determined fifth attempt at the three day treacherous swim. Impressive by any standards but even more so when you consider that Diana is 64. Gone are the days when the over 60s were expected to sit back and do nothing. However, it’s one thing to be determined and dynamic and another to be dangerous. Safety should always come first, whatever age you are, and while you may be more active than you’ve ever been, as you age your body may need some extra protection.
A muscle pounding, cardiovascular challenge, long distance US swimmer Diana Nyad also had to face stinging jellyfish, not to mention circling sharks. While she definitely took the plunge she didn’t do it without thinking about safety first. She wore a customized protective face mask and creams to stop jellyfish from stinging, and although she swam outside of a shark cage she had a shark team in place to deter any attacks.
Even if you’re not considering such a marathon sporting attempt, you still need to exercise in a safe way, otherwise you could end up putting your health and fitness on the line:
Don’t crash and burn
When you exercise your heart and lungs pump oxygenated blood to your muscles. However, as you age your maximum heart rate does decline. This means that your muscles won’t have the capacity to work to the same intensity as they might have done in the past. If you push yourself too far you might come to an almighty halt as you crash and burn.
Avoid extreme temperatures
40% of heat-related fatalities in the US are in the over 65 age group. Often, age means that you are less able to regulate heat or that you are not as able to pick up on body temperature changes and will get dehydrated easier. Sometimes dehydration can be as a result of medications too. Whether you exercise inside or outdoors, being aware of temperature control is important.
Low intensity rising
You don’t need to be involved with high intensity training as a senior to feel the results of many health promoting benefits. If you start at too high an intensity then you risk straining or spraining muscles and causing damage to tendons and ligaments. Build up slowly and steadily and always go with what feels comfortable.
Many exercise and fitness classes are tough on joints and as you age these can be real weak points. What they need is support and not a real slamming. Arthritis pain can be relieved by low impact exercises too and this lighter style of working out minimizes the risk of injuries.
Be aware of your environment
When you try something new or change where you exercise you need to really take in what is around you. Then you can enter the zone let go and enjoy yourself without putting yourself at risk. Are there lots of people coming and going? What about equipment and machines? Are you affected by the climate? What about busy roads or remote trails? Be alert and do a quick risk assessment in your mind before making any necessary provisions for your safety.
Stop if you feel ill or in pain
You don’t need to be a fitness expert to know that if you start to feel ‘off’ when you’re working out then you need to stop. If you’re concerned about how you feel then you might want to get yourself checked out by a medical professional. Listening to your body is not just about feeling connected but a safety monitor to flag up any potential health issues.
Focus on functional training
As you get older you want to be able to carry on doing all the things you’ve always done, right? Unless you’re another Diana Nyad, the chances are your ambition is not necessarily to break a record but to keep your health robust and be able to do everyday things. To sustain or improve flexibility, range of motion and strength adopt functional training that is geared toward maintaining this quality of life.
If you are looking to improve your quality of life, contact us today to see how we can help.