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Are You Old Enough to Do The Exercises for Later Life?

Marge Jetton, 104 | "How To Live Forever"

Photo Source: Marge Jetton, 104 | "How To Live Forever" by Wexler's World, Inc., on Flickr">

Young muscles that are not used come to resemble the muscles of the aged.

To a very considerable extent, the reverse of that statement is also true: symptoms of aging may in fact be symptoms of disuse. Many senior citizens who exercise can hold off these symptoms and cussed in preserving a youthful appearance, psyche, and level of fitness.

The mention of “psyche” is important. Upon entering his 60’s, or the retirement period, or any significant stage of later life, a person may feel that he is dying a small death. He may find it difficult to face the changes that later life brings: reduced involvement, more time to think about himself, a sense of diminishment and decreased importance, and so on.

He may find it less difficult if he has remained physically active, or if he can become physically active. By retaining some vigor, he may also retain a positive feeling about himself. He may have greater courage, and thus be able to try out new and stimulating experiences. He may move with greater ease and grace, presenting a trim and attractive figure. And the fit older person has a degree of independence that his less fit neighbor does not have. He need not call on friends, relatives, or others for help. He retains a large measure of personal freedom.

The principles behind a golden-age fitness program are essentially the same as those already specified for younger and mature adults. But the older person, perhaps even more than the younger one, has to move in easy stages. Even after testing and medical clearance, he should not undertake too much too fast. He will probably want to increase repetitions as his program progresses, and gradually add more difficult exercises. The main alternative, to overload by increasing intensity, might cause undue strain.

Physiologically, the older person faces a slight different problem from the younger. He cannot reach the same high heart rates that the younger one achieves. Thus the older person has a correspondingly lower target heart rate.

The older person may be exercising just as hard as his younger counterpart. But the older person’s pulse rate response will be lower. He will have reached the same percentage of his maximum as the younger person, only sooner. Those realities apply to women as well as to men. Women can achieve approximately the same maximum heart rates as men of comparable ages.

Warm-up and cool-down are as important or more so for older people as for younger. Running in place warms up the body effectively; so do easy stretching, pulling, and rotating exercises. In the main part of the workout, vigorous exercise should be alternated with periods of less strenuous activity.

A Warm-up Routine. The older person planning his or her own fitness program may want to invent a warm-up series of exercises. Alternatively, he may want to try the plan: the routine is performed over a five-or-six-minute period.

1) Take a deep breath while rising on your toes with arms extended over your head. Exhale slowly. Repeat three times, then lift your left and right knees in succession. Repeat the knee lifts ten times.

2) Start walking. You will want to increase the amount of walking you do by small increments. Walk erect, keeping your head up and remaining comfortable. Concentrate on walking heel to toe. That means that as you put your foot down, rock forward to your toes, thus strengthening your leg muscles. Gradually pick up the pace of your stride.

Whatever the older person exerciser does to extend or supplement the daily schedule, he should keep in mind that he can retain the high level of fitness by his own energy input. Always consult your doctor with regards to your daily exercise routine.

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