senior exercise program - essential components

Many seniors and older adults know that regular exercise brings with it a whole host of benefits - ranging from the physical to the psychological to the emotional, and even to the mental - and is a vital component in healthy aging. 

However, not many are aware what a well-balanced fitness program entails, nor know how to go about integrating the various fitness components into their workout routine for optimal benefits.

The following paragraphs will go some way in addressing the above, and  highlight the various exercise components that should make up a balanced and well-rounded exercise program for a mature adult.

Essentially, there are 4 main components that should be included in any Senior Exercise Program for it to be effective, all-rounded and to have far-reaching benefits.

These 4 components are:

  • Strength Training

  • Cardiorespiratory Training

  • Flexibility Training

  • Neuromotor Training

A) Strength Training

As we age, we all lose bone mass and muscle mass, resulting in what the medical community term as frailty in older adults.

To offset this condition, all seniors should incorporate resistance training into their fitness programs to build functional strength and power.

 

As for the mode of resistance used, it does NOT necessarily have to be conventional resistance equipment such as barbells or dumbbells.

 

Rather, the term - strength training - includes any and every form of resistance that can be placed on the human body, including, but not limited to resistance from: bands, tubings, medicine balls, sandbags, filled water bottles and even one's own body weight! 

By partaking in resistance training, not only would older adults get to preserve their bone mass and muscle mass, the training process itself would also stimulate the growth of new bone and new muscle fibres in the body, resulting in stronger bones, greater functional strength, and improved quality of life.

B) Cardiorespiratory Training

Cardio or Aerobic Training - as they are popularly known - are essential for every mature adult as they help to improve the efficiency of the heart, lungs and circulatory system.

Without good cardiorespiratory fitness, many older adults would struggle to carry out their day-to-day activities and would face a drastic deterioration in their quality of life.

As a rule, any physical activity that helps to increase one's breathing and heart rate for a sustained period of time can be classified as a cardio or aerobic activity.

 

Hence, physical activities such as: brisk walking, jogging, dancing, cycling, rowing and even circuit training with weights are all considered good choices for cardiorespiratory training.

C) Flexibility Training

As we age, our muscles, tendons and ligaments tend to shorten and weaken, resulting in a loss of flexibility with each passing decade.

And with this loss of flexibility, comes greater incidence of soreness, stiffness, pain as well as an increased risk of injuries to our various joints and body parts.

As such, to offset this loss of range of motion and general flexibility, seniors and older adults need to ensure that flexibility training is part and parcel of their workout routines.

For improved flexibility, training can take the form of: dynamic stretching, static stretching, Yoga  or even Tai Chi.

D) Neuromotor Training

Aging brings with it deterioration of our neuromotor skills, that include elements such as: balance, agility, coordination, proprioception and gait.

As a result, many older adults and seniors experience decreasing mobility and a greater incidence of falls as they age.

Neuromotor training, as part of a balanced fitness program, can indeed help to slow down the aging process and serve to improve an older adult's sense of balance, general mobility as well as playing a part in fall prevention as well.

For instance, exercises that require a one-legged stance, or performed on unstable surfaces, or even necessitating the navigation of mini-obstacles - all help to improve one's neuromotor skills.

Conclusion

As the saying goes: "Age is just a number".

In order for the above statement to ring true in your life, and to ensure graceful and healthy aging, do remember to include all 4 fitness components into your exercise program today!

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