Senior Fitness – Exercise For the Elderly

At least once a week on any local news channel anywhere in the country there is a color piece on an octogenarian who just completed a marathon, or a 98 year old man who went skydiving, or a team of rugby players all over the age of 60. Fitness isn’t exclusive to the young.

Admittedly, age takes a toll on the joints and muscles, but the principles of honing the body’s strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health still hold true for seniors just as much as youth. Intense wind sprints and hundreds of push ups may not be the best route to senior fitness, but there are still plenty of types of exercises for the elderly. Here are some of the best…

Swimming

Can’t sprint? Swim! Swimming combines the intensity of a full body workout (especially the core) with the reduced stressed, low impact environment. One of the best exercise option for seniors suffering from arthritis. This exercise is a particular draw for elderly woman suffering from chronic back pain, or seniors with brittle bones.

Tai Chi

No, this is not a spiced herbal beverage available at Starbucks (that’s chai tea). It is an ancient martial art focusing on subtle movement, coordination and balance. As a martial art, it’s much more art than martial. This is a wonderful exercise for the elderly as speed is not a requirement. And regardless of age, many use Tai Chi as a form of stress relief as well as fitness

Yoga

If you take kindly to Tai Chi, Yoga would be a next healthy step. Yoga can be more vigorous than Tai Chi, but still applicable for senior fitness. It works to strengthen and lengthen muscles, as well as improve flexibility. Additionally, there are many yoga positions and routines specifically designed to alleviate back pain.

Hiking/Walking

The most primal exercise, and perhaps the best, humans were meant to hike. The human body evolved to endure and thrive from long, low impact walks, and that applies perfectly to elderly. Hiking outdoors encourages adaptability; it is the opposite of the treadmill. Even a slow hike can provide a good amount of cardiovascular exercise without reaching painful intensive levels for senior citizens.

Rowing

This is not a traditional exercise for the elderly. No one thinks of a 60-and-over rowing team when they think of senior fitness. But, rowing provides a strenuous upper body workout, without the pump and grind of the gym. Rowing works the quads, the core, and even the leg muscles. It also adds the fresh element, essential to senior living. Getting a workout along the lazy shore of a local river can be quite charming.

Back Flips

Okay, maybe not. In fact, definitely not an exercise for the elderly. Stick to the first five.

Ultimately, have fun. Simple activities like dancing, golfing, gardening or even just a picnic can be a great way to keep the body active. Logging an hour a day at the gym isn’t a necessity so long as you get the blood flowing, a simple walk to the corner grocer may do the trick. The principles of fitness and senior fitness are the same; find enjoyable, fulfilling activities, choose a variety rather than a boring daily routine, and don’t be afraid to include others!

Fitness News – Weight Training Injury Prevention Report

It is a known fact that weight training related injuries are on the rise. This is only natural considering the fact that more people are attempting to remain fit now.

The Report in Brief

The report concerning the rise of weight training injuries that published recently (April 16, 2010) is based on Center for Injury Research. Quite a large number of large number of injuries had also been discovered by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

This study of weight-related increases accounts for cases that occurred from 1990s to 2007. This is a time during which a 50 percent increase in injuries took place.

The largest portion of these injury increases was reported in men ages 13 to 24. Usually it was while using free weights and the majority of these were sprains and strains.

Other injuries included these: Upper body injuries, lower trunk pain, soft tissue injuries, and hand injuries. It should be noted though that even though most of the injuries that occurred in young people 18 to 24 the largest increase in incidences actually took place in people 45 and older.

The reason the older people would get hurt is because they would over-exert themselves. This often is a result of too much lifting and pulling.

There of course is an increase in women participants in weight training too. However, not as much information has yet been provided about female weight trainers.

This is only a short segment of information provided in a report about this issue. Additional information can be found in “Weight Training-Related Injuries Increasing.”

Prevention Tips

This next section is not taken from the same source as the above information about injuries. This is rather a collection of fitness safety tips related to weight training collected from a variety of publications.

There are a variety of reasons why injuries occur. This is a short list of tips based on those varying causes:

Illegal steroids-One main cause of weight training injuries is the use of anabolic steroids. People use them to obtain gains in strength and muscle. However, using steroids is illegal and can lead to torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments. These should NOT be used.

Inadequate warm-up-Another reason that injuries occur is because of not warming up properly. It is highly recommended that you stretch all the major muscles in your legs, arms, back, and abdomen before proceeding.

Inappropriate age-Sometimes adolescents who have not had their muscles fully developed can hurt themselves. Therefore, they should be under close supervision in case of injury. They should limit their weight lifting activity until after reaching puberty.

Improper technique-Sometimes people injure themselves while not using the weights the way they should be used. They also may not handle the weights the way they should be handled. Bouncing, jerking, or throwing them is a very bad idea. Sometimes a person can also extend his/her back in a way he/she should not either, or extending it too often can be dangerous.

Dangerous exercises-Sometimes there are exercises you may have been taught that are not safe. For instance, pull-downs behind the neck can put excessive stress on the neck and shoulders. In this particular case, front/lat pull-downs are recommended instead.