In my last post, “Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2016,” the #8 position was fitness programs for the elderly. Which I personally thought was great!
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge International released a fact-finding report on aging, Ageing in the 21st Century, in 2012. Some of the more interesting findings were as follows.
- By 2020 there will be over 1 billion people on the planet over the age of 60.
- 80% of senior citizens in the world will live in developing countries by 2050.
- In fact, by 2050 there will be more people over 60, than under 15.
We as humans are living longer. Advances in medicines and treatments, healthier diets, increased education and programs designed specifically for the elderly have all helped to increase our longevity.
As we get older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. An exercise program can make you healthier physically, mentally and emotionally. And while it’s better in my opinion to get and stay fit at an early age, I also feel you’re never too old to start!
Exercise will help seniors to maintain or lose weight, and will increase strength, mobility and balance. It promotes sleep, makes you feel good about yourself, and may even help slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some things to consider about an exercise program however.
- Check with your doctor first!
- If you have been sedentary for some time, start out slow, walking is great for starters. Once you can walk for 30 minutes comfortably at at time, you can start to incorporate new things into your program,
- Low impact exercises like swimming, yoga, tai-chi, cycling, or dance are all great for both physical and cardio workouts.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people over the age of 65 participate in strength-training workouts at least twice a week.
- Start out with very light weight until you find what you can do for 15 reps.
- Bodyweight exercise is very effective. Lunges, modified push-ups, and knee bends/squats are some good examples.
- Stretching helps both flexibility and balance. Slow, controlled stretches for 15-20 seconds work well.
Its important to find something you enjoy doing as part of your fitness program, that holds true for any age by the way. There are many commercial gyms these days that offer classes or programs designed for seniors these days which provide social interaction as well as physical activity. There are also certified personal trainers that have specialized in fitness for the elderly, or you can work out in the privacy of your home without the need to spend a lot of money.
While you the reader are probably not a senior citizen, chances are that you know one. If fitness is important to you, then you probably understand why it becomes more and more necessary as we get older.
If you know an older person who could use the benefits of fitness, encourage them. I think its a great way for the young to repay the old. Be supportive, go for a walk with them, make them a healthy meal. Because who knows? Maybe you might be a senior citizen someday too.