Aging depends upon one’s physical peculiarities and lifestyle. As we grow old, most of our organs wither as well, resulting in several kinds of physical ailments. Age-related illnesses are pertaining to brain, heart, lungs, skin, bones, joints, reproductive organs, glands, veins, nerves and muscles. This weakens our immunity.
But, there is no need to worry. You can prevent the degeneration of most organs by means of exercise. Proper work outs can also prevent early aging and lifestyle diseases. You might have observed that those who workout regularly are age slower than those who don't exercise regularly.
Workouts for the elderly
People of all ages need to take precautions and timely medical checkups. Whereas, those who have crossed 40 must keep in mind certain things when they work out.
1. You must tell your doctor / physical trainer about the ailments you and your family members are having, before doing the workouts.
2. If you have any illness, show the entire medical report to the trainer. These people must also submit the doctor’s directives.
3. Get a clear idea from your trainer about the exercises you must avoid - that are incompatible with the illness you are having.
4. Even if you don’t have any illness, it is good to take a fitness assessment before the workout. This will help the trainer decide how intense your workout should be. Basing on that, the trainer can also decide the priorities.
5. The aged must not make haste while working out, especially in the initial stages.
6. They must have clear idea about the fitness goals.
7. Don’t give priority to building muscles in the initial stage. Focus on enhancing general health and overall fitness in this stage.
8. The aged should not work out daily, especially in the beginning. They must work out only 3-4 days a week on alternative days.
9. Don’t opt for prolonged workout sessions. Start with half an hour work outs and gradually make it for an hour. However fit you are, never exceed one and a half hour.
10. Everyday, start with a warm-up session before the exercise and conclude the session with a cool down session.
When to work out?
For some elderly persons, evening workouts can disturb their sleeping patterns. They should choose mornings for workouts. To achieve the goal of general health and physical strength, choose exercises that combine flexibility and strength. Never be competitive or over-enthusiastic while working out, especially in the initial stages.
If you feel uneasy
In case you feel uneasy while doing the workouts, even in the slightest form, stop doing the exercise and rest at a place where there is plenty of fresh air. Lie on your back keeping your legs raised and head tilted to one side. If the discomfort persists, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
First two weeks
Workout only four days a week. After working out for two days, take a break on the third day.
Warm-up cardio – 15 minutes. Callisthenic exercises (work outs done without equipments: like squat) – 10 minutes.
Stretching – 10 minutes
Cardio – 15 minutes
Cool down – 5 minutes
After two weeks
Warm-up cardio – 15 minutes
Callisthenic exercises – 1 minute
Strength training – 20 minutes
Final cardio – 15 minutes
Stretching and cool down – 10 minutes
On Monday and Thursday: strength training for chest, shoulders, triceps and stomach.
Machine bench press, machine shoulder press, dumbbell shrug, triceps push down and rope crunches -two sets each with 12 to 15 repeats.
On Tuesday and Wednesday: strength training for legs and arms.
Leg press / leg extensions, leg curl, standing calf raises, lat pull-down, seated dumbbell curl, standing hammer curl and reverse wrist curl - two sets each with 12 to 15 repeats.
Rest for one minute between the exercises, and two minutes between the sets. Walking slowly between the sets is ideal. Abstain completely from all workouts on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
(The author is a fitness consultant based out of Thrissur, Kerala)