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Being More Active?

You are never too old to become more active.   However everyone - but especially us Seniors - needs to be very careful not to overstrain or overdo any exercise.  We would advise that you always consult your GP before embarking on any fitness regime.  

Being More Active will 

  • Strengthen your heart

  • Help lower your blood pressure

  • Help control your weight

  • Improve your circulation

  • Help lower your blood cholesterol levels 

  • Help reduce stress levels

This will help you to:

  • Finish the day as fresh as you started it 

  • Feel full of beans

  • Keep up with the grandchildren and give them occasional surprises 

  • Enjoy deep refreshing sleep every night

  • Walk up the stairs without getting out of breath

  • Gain the passport to ripe old age and give you the vitality to enjoy it.

Adopt the Activity Habit By:

  • Choose an activity that you enjoy

  • Choose a suitable location to take part in the activity

  • Make time to be active, ie instead of watching the television or reading that book

  • Encourage a friend to join in with you

  • Do a little each day (10 - 30 minutes of moderate activity over the course of a day)

  • Avoid eating within 2 hours of exercise

  • Begin gently and progress gradually

  • If attending a structured fitness class - Let the instructor know that you are new to the activity

  • If you haven't done any physical activity for some time - have a check with your GP 

  • Remember that consistent commitment to physical activity will encourage long term health benefits

What to do?

There are loads of ways to become more physically active that
you can build into your daily routine. But remember always start gently -  short bursts of strong physical activity can be very dangerous to us - if you are out of condition then do nothing more strenuous than walking!

HOW ABOUT

WALKING is a superb form of physical activity and will help you increase your overall fitness level. It can provide long term health benefits such as improved endurance, lower heart rate, lower stress levels and by improving overall fitness you will help reduce the risks of chronic heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Walking is social, enjoyable for all ages and carries few risks of injuries and what is more it's FREE!! 

 

MAKE WALKING PART OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE BY:  

  • Where possible walk to the shops instead of taking the car or public transport

  • Use the stairs instead of the lift

  • If on public transport, get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way 

  • Take the dog for an extra walk each day - maybe even 2 walks? (If you haven't got a dog - get one - they can be great companions - but that is another feature!!)

More about walking - Walking to a healthy heart  Walking the way to health is an initiative of the British Heart Foundation and the Countryside Agency

SWIMMING is one of the best forms of exercise about. The water supports the body and provides an excellent workout for the heart while exercising most muscles in the body. 

 

Even if you are a non-swimmer - you can get into the water to exercise try aqua aerobics if you are looking for an alternative to swimming.


CYCLING is a great form of exercise, especially it you like being out and about in the fresh air. It works the heart and lungs and tones the legs, bottom and shoulders.  You can cycle in a gyms at your local sports centre or on quiet roads but remember if you are out on the roads: 

  • Cycle in well lit areas  

  • Ensure that you are visible by displaying lights and by wearing luminous or light coloured clothing

  • Cycle with a partner and ensure that you have adequate fluids

  • Always plan your route before you set off

  • Carry emergency tools and equipment

RUNNING OR JOGGING (at our age avoid running!) are probably the cheapest sports in the world. You can jog anywhere - within reason and the main outlay is a pair of running shoes. It is worth investing in a good pair of shoes because the cushioning and flexibility specifically designed for running will be far better then an indoor pair of football or indoor sports shoes.   The weather and time of year will determine what sort of clothing that you need to wear, but a comfortable, loose tee shirt and cotton shorts are a start.  A light weight jacket and loose bottoms, in a layered system can be added in the winter plus an extra top, hat and gloves as required.  Wear what makes you feel comfortable!!!

HOW IS YOUR GENERAL FITNESS?

 

Don't know? Then why not go along to your local sports centre (most councils have one) and have a fitness assessment.

A fitness assessment programme is usually designed to provide you with key information to allow you to make changes to your lifestyle and should provide you with details about:

  • Blood Pressure

  • Cholesterol Level

  • Body fat %

  • Strength

  • Stamina

  • Suppleness 

  • Aerobic Capacity

Strength Training for Seniors 

If you’re at the age where your physical stamina is just not what it used to be, take heart.  Despite misconceptions, older people can make changes in their activities that will improve physical strength and coordination.

Unfortunately, as our bodies age it is natural for us to lose some muscle mass and strength.  However, you can have more control over the rate that your muscles age than you think.  Loss of strength in older people probably results from lack of use as much as the aging process itself.  Research in this area has led to the conclusion that most older people could receive considerable benefit from a strength training program.  And the best news is that now is a perfect time to start.
 

Here’s how strength training works. 

Our muscles require stimulation in order to grow.  If we become less active, the muscles undergo less stress and become smaller and weaker as a result.  A strength training program literally builds muscles and reverses these negative effects.  Stress applied to healthy muscles, bones or tendons will cause these structures to become stronger, larger and more dense.  In fact, improvements usually begin to occur as soon as two to three weeks following the start of a strengthening program.
 

Physical therapists often see patients who are concerned that this type of exercise program may be so strenuous that it will cause further damage to arthritic joints or create stress on their cardiovascular health.  Of course, anyone beginning a new exercise program should consult his or her family GP to ensure personal safety.
 

Your general exercise program should work both the upper and lower body parts and should be performed on alternate days at least three days per week.  Allowing a day of rest in between resistance exercise will permit muscles to recover before the next exercise period.  Free weights as well as weight machines are components of a good program.  Items around the house such as a can of soup also may be used as weights.
 

Emphasis should be placed on performing a full range of motion and in a smooth and controlled manner.  It is very important that you pay attention to your breathing during exercise.  As a general rule of thumb you should exhale while lifting the weight and inhale while lowering it.  Most importantly, remember to breath in a nice controlled manner, and never hold your breath.
 

Perhaps the most exciting result of strength training for the elderly population is an increase in daily function.  Research has shown that individuals who participate in a resistance exercise program walk faster, climb stairs better and fall less frequently.  The reduction in the frequency of falls is probably a result of increased strength in the leg muscles.  In addition, exercises performed while standing likely will have a positive effect on balance for standing and walking.  People that take part in resistance programs demonstrate less loss of bone density as they age.  This is because bone, like muscle, adapts to the common stresses placed on it.
 

Be encouraged, no matter what your age, to initiate a resistance exercise program.  And involve your doctor.  He or she can help you get on the right track and monitor your positive progress along the way. 

 

 
 

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