Regular exercise for seniors has many benefits, including maintaining strong joints and building strong muscles. But that’s not all: exercise can promote heart and lung health and even help manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure. Combining regular exercise with a balanced diet can help you stay fit and feel strong, which can improve your quality of life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that seniors get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, five days a week. Whether you are already physically active or want to get back into a healthy routine, there are some things to watch out for. Check out these 10 common mistakes most seniors make that you should avoid!
8- You skip the warm-up
If you want to keep your workouts pain-free and reduce the risk of muscle soreness, a warm-up is essential. Many people skip the warm-up because they think it’s not important, but it can be very helpful and even reduce the risk of injury.
That’s because a warm-up increases body temperature, promotes blood flow to the muscles and prepares the joints and muscles for exercise. For a good warm-up, start with five to 10 minutes. It is best to perform the same movements as your chosen exercise, but at a slower pace. For example, if you plan to take a brisk walk, do a warm-up first with a slow walk of five to 10 minutes.
7- You skip the cool-down phase
Just as important as warming up is cooling down. After exercise, your body temperature is higher, your heart rate usually elevated and your blood vessels dilated. If you stop too soon after exercising, you may feel dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded, and even faint.
A cool-down should last about two to five minutes, and the goal is to bring your heart rate close to resting. A good example of a cool-down is walking after a jog.
6- You’re stretching at the wrong time
Static stretching is good for muscles, but many people make the mistake of stretching before exercise. It is recommended to do static stretching after exercise when cooling down. This is because your muscles and joints are still warm and flexible. Stretching after exercise is also a good way to lower your heart rate and bring your body into a resting state.
Stretching can also help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which reduces muscle cramps and stiffness. Start by stretching your major muscles and make sure you also focus on the muscles you used during your workout.
Hold each stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds. Note that it is normal to feel a little discomfort when stretching, but it should never be painful. Read the Mayo Clinic’s guide to stretching
5- You’re in the wrong shape
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you have poor form when exercising, you can do even more damage. If you bend your knees further than your feet in a squat or put too much weight on your wrists in a push-up, your workout can be less effective.
A good way to avoid this is to always look in a mirror while exercising to make sure you are maintaining proper form. You can also hire a personal trainer to show you how to perform different exercises correctly. When lifting weights, you can also start with lighter weights or even no weights at all until you master the movements of each exercise.
4- You are not correcting muscle imbalances
Just like correcting improper form, correcting imbalances is also very important. Many seniors suffer from muscle imbalances due to years of poor posture and old injuries. Muscle imbalances can affect your training, as unbalanced loads can limit mobility.
Fortunately, many muscle imbalances can be corrected with proper training. Be sure to correct muscle imbalances before beginning an exercise program.
3- Wrong training intensity
High intensity workouts can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than other types of exercise. However, seniors should keep in mind that this type of workout is not for everyone. Many adults slow down as they age, which often means they don’t exercise the way they did when they were younger. If you’re not used to high-intensity training, you may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, aches and pains, and excessive fatigue.
Also, if you are not used to this type of exercise, you may injure yourself. Therefore, start slowly to avoid hurting yourself and gradually increase the intensity. Try these simple exercises for seniors!
2- They focus only on endurance training.
Aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, running and cycling are a great way for seniors to stay active. What’s more, these types of exercises can even lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, prevent the onset of dementia, and lower blood pressure. However, if you focus only on endurance training, you’ll miss out on the benefits of resistance and strength training.
While you may not be able to lift the same weight you did in your 20s, strength training is still just as important as you age. Strength training can help improve bone density, build muscle mass and strength, and increase flexibility.
Start slowly and gradually increase the weights and exercises. It would also be a good idea to start with two 30-minute strength training sessions per week. Some good strength exercises for seniors include chair squats, wall push-ups, biceps curls, triceps extensions and arm raises.
1- Hold your breath
Have you ever noticed in the middle of an exercise that you hold your breath? You are not the only one, many people do this. But holding your breath isn’t good for your workout or your health. It can even increase blood pressure, which can lead to nausea and dizziness.
Proper breathing can improve your workout, calm you down, and help you use all your muscles. In the long run, good breathing can improve blood circulation, help muscles produce less carbon dioxide and optimize your workout. Like anything else, good breathing requires practice!