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How often you should exercise: A guide for seniors

You may have heard or come across the notion that it’s not optimal to exercise when you are old as it may do more harm than good — this is not entirely true.

In fact, just about everyone benefits from exercise, if you’re not on the severely disabled side, of course. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what your medical condition is. There’ll be at least some form of exercise you’ll be able to do. 

How is this so? Well, if you’ve visited a hospital before, which you more than likely have at least some point in your life, you may have seen stroke and accident victims having some form of physical therapy. This is to help them heal. 

Physical therapy such as taking small steps with the aid of a helper or walker, or being immersed in a pool for aquatic therapy. These different techniques help the body heal by strengthening it. 

In fact, exercise is even more important for seniors due to muscle loss and diseases that come with age. Exercise will boost metabolism, ward off diseases and make you stronger and healthier. 

But, how much exercise should you do? And what exercises can you do?

These are a few factors to consider:

1. Activity Types

The type of activity you engage in will determine how often you should exercise. Ideally, you  should get some form of cardio and stretching in their workouts daily. At the very minimum, this should be done five days a week, with a day or two to rest.

It may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. A simple thirty minute walk a day will reap plenty of benefits. 10 to 15 minutes of stretches following the walk can help you to stay limber and flexible.

If you attend yoga classes or do resistance training, you may skip the cardio on those days that you’re engaged in other activities. Ideally, it’s important to get a mix of cardio and resistance training. Variety will help get your body to strengthen different areas.

2. Age

Your age will affect your workout regimen. People in their seventies or older will need more time to recover. So, they may exercise on one day followed by a break the next day, and work out the day after that and so on.

This is mostly due to muscle degradation as the body gets older and more resistant to growth signals.  

It all depends on the person involved. With time, you’ll notice that you’re getting stronger and can exercise more frequently as your body adapts and gets used to exercise.

3. Intensity

The intensity at which you train will determine how often you exercise. Some people lead more active lives, which results in their bodies being able to handle significantly more stress than those who haven’t, especially if they’ve been active since their youth.

If you’re used to low-intensity exercises such as simple stretches and the aforementioned walks, you should avoid immediately trying to do high-intensity exercises such as powerlifting and sprinting. This may only exert your body and cause more harm than good. For instance, going from simple walks to immediately attempting to do sprints may tear a muscle tendon, resulting in months of recovery.

Instead, take some time to gradually adjust from low to high-intensity over a period of time.

The rest you can take depends on the intensity. For instance, if you lift heavy weights, you will probably only need 2 or 3 training sessions a week. On the other hand, if you lift much lighter dumbbells to work your arms, you will be able to do them daily.

4. Health Issues

As you age, you’ll notice that you’ll come down with aches, pains, and joint problems more frequently. Even walking may be difficult and painful, and even the simplest of exercises may seem hard. For people with such issues, they may exercise 3 times a week for shorter durations. Your doctor will be the best person to consult and plan your exercise.

In conclusion, the more you exercise, the better you’ll feel and the stronger you’ll get, thus resulting in better health. 

You’re never too old to start!

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