Staying healthy is at the top of everyone’s mind right now — especially for seniors. No matter your age, exercise is important for staying healthy and maintaining your quality of life. Whether you are new to exercise or trying to get back into a fitness routine, it helps to have some professional tips to guide you. Below, check out our Q&A with ERS Wellness Director Chloe Hough.
ERS: Now that we’re all spending more time indoors, some seniors may be just getting into fitness. What advice do you have for those who are just starting out and trying to be more active?
CHLOE: When you are just getting started with your workout plan, you are feeling motivated and excited! It is easy to go in full steam ahead and overdo it. Before you know it, you’ll have pushed your body through the workout and the next day you ache all over. You’ll need to take more time to recover from that workout and this can interrupt your plans to continue to exercise. If you don’t take the proper time to recover from a vigorous workout, it can cause injury. So the moral of the story is start slow and gradually build the time, repetition, or intensity. You want your body to know you’ve exercised, but not so much that you can’t perform daily activities as you usually would.
ERS: If the new exercise feels like it’s too much, what should seniors do? Stop or push ahead?
CHLOE: An instructor or trainer can guide you through your workout, but only you know how you are feeling. Exercise should not be painful. While exercising you may feel a burning sensation or fatigue in your muscles, but you should not experience pain. If something hurts, perform a modified version or skip that movement altogether. There are a million ways to work a muscle or muscle group, it is just about finding one that feels good for you!
Pictured: Wellness Director Chloe Hough.
ERS: It can be hard to stick to a new routine. Do you have any tips for staying on track?
CHLOE: Yes, find a workout buddy! When you have someone to exercise with it can make an exercise session or class more enjoyable. Another benefit of a workout buddy is that they can hold you accountable. You are less likely to skip your workout if you know your friend is expecting you to be there.
Considering the current state of COVID-19, remember that you don’t necessarily have to exercise with your workout buddy in person. Try calling or video chatting with each other after your workouts to share your progress! Also, if you’re having trouble finding suitable exercises to do at home, remember to check out our video series on at-home exercises for residents.
ERS: What are some tips for seniors to have the most effective workout?
CHLOE: Good form is key! Having the correct form will ensure that you are working the muscle you are intending to exercise. Maintaining the correct form is also important for injury prevention.
It’s also important to remember to stay hydrated. As we age, our sensation of thirst diminishes. If you are thirsty you may already be dehydrated! Water helps to aid the body in many ways including regulating body temperature and lubricating joints. If you are sweating, like during exercise, you may need to consume more water. Try to make it a priority to hydrate throughout the day.
ERS: What would you say to seniors who are nervous about trying a new fitness routine?
CHLOE: It can take some experimenting to find the type of exercise that you most enjoy. Try out different modalities, classes, equipment, etc. to see what you like and what you feel enthusiastic about! You are much more likely to stick to an exercise routine if you enjoy it!
Also, if you are unsure of how a piece of equipment works, if that Yoga class is appropriate for you or if you are performing an exercise correctly, do not be afraid to ask a fitness professional for help or guidance. If you belong to an exercise facility, attend classes, exercise with a trainer, etc. fitness professionals are there to assist you!
Finally, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself! You will find that if you do the same workout time after time that you plateau, you no longer see progress or change. Your body is always adapting and it likes to be challenged. A little soreness is not a bad thing!
Looking for some exercises to jump-start your fitness journey? Don’t forget to check out Chloe’s video series on at-home exercises for residents. You can also download our Positive Aging Guide for more tips to help you live well into the future.