I CAN SPEAK TO THIS ISSUE
I am not a young or middle-aged fitness advocate, preparing for life as a senior. I am already there!
It’s not a curse, it’s even comfortable at times, especially upon reflection that not everyone makes it to age 80.
The goal of this post is to strongly suggest that seniors can still maintain fitness and even improve our muscular and cardiovascular strength.
It helps if we have a background in sports and fitness. I can personally be of best service to others by recounting my decades of workouts, including the adjustments I needed to make as I aged. I work out every day, but with significant changes to accommodate the effects of aging. It is even possible to control those effects to some degree.
Here is an interesting study on senior fitness, done by Wake Forest University a few years ago. The fitness programs of 249 overweight people in their 60s were examined over 18 months. Conclusions were somewhat surprising. It seems that resistance exercise may have been underestimated, relative to cardio. Both are important, but read the short article.
In this post, I will show the adjustments I have made and the reasons to make them. My experiences may shed light on what others are encountering or on what others may face as they get older
WORK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
By all means, let your primary care physician or other doctors know if you are planning on a new fitness regimen. There are examinations to be made and advice to heed. This is essential if you are a sedentary person who wants to embark upon a new workout program.
Then ease into the program. Curb your initial enthusiasm and be aware that we are generally more eager to work harder as we begin. Start slowly and build slowly.
My practice is to record my weight, blood pressure, pulse and calories consumed on a daily basis. I also include resistance sets done, as well as cardio minutes.
I keep in close contact with my primary care physician and my sports medicine physician – blood tests, injections as needed, etc. But most of my care is self-imposed. Journaling keeps me organized and motivated to stay on track.
I am shown below, about 3 weeks after turning 80, which is roughly 5 months ago.
In addition to journaling, I now do a few other things that may be relatable. I will list these in the next few paragraphs.
I don’t use barbells at this point and have no interest in how many pounds I can bench press or use within my sets and reps.
My practice is to use lighter weights and to do reps in the 20s or 30s, even the 100s for abdominal sets.
My cardio is somewhat limited since I have arthritis in my knees, back and hips. I do a treadmill workout every day, but not for long periods of time. Another benefit of high reps is the cardio effect. I am breathing heavily after a set of 20-30 reps with dumbbells. This adds to the cardio benefits of using my treadmill.
Also, using lighter weights/higher reps will protect us from injury as we ascend to our senior years.
I include isometric holds as part of my workouts. My workouts are done daily, but I never work the same body parts on consecutive days. My workouts generally follow this schedule:
- Back, chest, biceps and triceps one day.
- Abdominals, calves, neck the next day.
Each day also includes the following:
- 3 sets of rotator cuff stretching exercises, as prescribed by my physical therapists
- About 15 minutes on my treadmill, raising the speed and elevation quickly
I find it helpful to skip a day once in a while. This is not because of laziness. It invigorates me to get away from the daily routine occasionally. I then start back with greater energy and mental freshness. Also, my workouts are only for about 30 minutes, done in the morning before breakfast.
EQUIPMENT FROM AMAZON
I usually work out at home though I still maintain a YMCA membership. I like and recommend both home and gym workouts. Home workout equipment is obviously important for those who only train at home, but also for those who use gyms. It is always good to have a back-up plan. Here is some of the equipment I use:
It is easy to attach the bands to a door and then pull them while facing the door or facing away from the door. We can also step on the midpoint of the bands and curl or press them upward. The bands are generally of lower impact than dumbbells.
Here is a link to a complete set of resistance bands, with handles and all accessories. This is from Amazon. (As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases). Note the very reasonable price. The set is pictured below. The link also shows other similar options.
I like to use dumbbells for curls, triceps extensions, lying lateral raises and other movements. It helps me to switch from resistance bands to dumbbells, back and forth.
Check this link for information on adjustable dumbbells. Be sure to look at the other options shown by the link.
A set of lighter dumbbells is shown here. This set is appropriate for beginners or those with less experience or strength. The rack is included.
I use this to support my neck and back when doing abdominal exercise on my floor. This may be a senior adjustment, but it’s more likely just a common sense accessory.
Here is the link and the image is below.
I do a treadmill program every day. This is my primary cardio source. I use a Nordic Track now, though I have also tried other brands. I listen to music as I walk on the treadmill, raising the speed and elevation every minute.
Here is the treadmill I use and the image is shown below. Check out the other options shown within the link.
I use a Teeter inversion table, at first to treat sciatic pain, but now to simply elevate my legs to change the direction of my blood flow. Please review my prior post on leg elevation and inversion.
Here is the link to the inversion table, which is also shown below.
To increase the effect of push-ups, I use the device shown below. This enables me to set hand positions to focus on the chest, triceps, shoulders or back. Here is the link.
Bullworker is a company known for producing both isotonic and isometric modes of exercise, within the same workout tools. I use both the Steel Bow and the Bow Classic. Using Bullworkers for the isometric effects can certainly lessen the possibility of joint pain (since the joints would not be moved). This is quite important for seniors.
Bullworker products are of high quality and long durability. They are small enough to be easily transportable as we may travel. I use them for my upper body workouts and they have applications for any workout movement.
Here is the link to the company website.
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS
Dick’s Sporting Goods has always been my favorite source for athletic goods. I have bought tennis and golf equipment (and accessories), fitness equipment and sportswear from this source for decades. This is the largest sporting goods merchant tin the U.S. and, in my opinion, the very best in service, price and inventory. I may be compensated when purchases are made from my links, since I am an associate.
Here is the link to the company website. Look for Easter specials and other discounts.
I use Goli gummies and chocolate bites to insure my nutritional needs. This becomes increasingly important as we age into our senior years. The gummies and bites are not only supportive of our health needs; they are quite delicious.
Take a look at what Goli has to offer!
My main point in this post is that it is not difficult to age “gracefully”. We simply need to continue (or begin) a fitness regimen appropriate to our needs. Then, consistency becomes crucial to our success.
I have tried to point out some adjustments that I have made and some sources for home workout products that I have used. My experiences will certainly not coincide directly with those of everyone else, but there should be some correlation.
It has always been important for me to keep a journal of my daily fitness activities, including calories consumed. I would recommend this as a good way to hold ourselves accountable. There are journals to buy, but I do this easily enough with computer entries every day.
Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Easter or Passover to everyone!