Mature adults benefit from incorporating a weekly exercise routine. Fitness is important for keeping your muscles and bones strong, your joints flexible, your brain sharp, and your balance stable. The best exercise is the one that you will do! To know how much exercise you really need to see results, keep reading!
If you are brand new to fitness training, then aim to start with just 20 minutes a couple of days per week. Over time, you will will build up your strength and endurance and may be able to reach a total of 60 minutes of exercise per day., with 30 minutes dedicated to strength training! But as you begin a strength program, you will want to start low and go slow. This means that the older you are, the lighter the weights should be, and the more careful you need to be.
To see amazing results, mature adults should aim for twice weekly progressive strength training. This has been shown to be just as effective as training three days per week. Research suggests that older adults need a longer recovery than younger adults. The more you increase your sets, reps, and weight used, the longer your body will need to recover.
Another aspect of a strength program is training for muscle power. This type of training tends to decline earlier and faster than muscle strength with advancing age. Muscle power is even more important than traditional strength training for many functional tasks such as stair-climbing and rising from a chair. Power training using a variety of equipment such as body weight, sand bags, weighted vests, medicine balls, kettlebells, and resistance bands can all be used and typically require using lower weight but at more intensity. It should be noted that before beginning power training, you should have proper form, and a conditioning phase focused on muscular strength and endurance.
Balance and Fall Prevention Training
Falls are due to a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors include a history of falls, living alone, certain medications, impaired mobility and gait, sedentary behavior, visual impairments, poor lower extremity strength, and fear of falling.
Extrinsic factors include environmental hazards, improper footwear and clothing, and the use of walking aids or assistive devices.
Exercise has been identified as the best single intervention to prevent falls in older adults with up to 42% of falls being preventable with a well-designed exercise program.
To get the best results, balance and fall prevention training should be performed for at least two hours per week for a 6-month period. Further, balance improvements are lost quickly if training stops.
Two options for balance and fall prevention training include Tai Chi and Yoga. Tai Chi is an ancient martial art with many different forms that incorporates mild strength training, balance, postural alignment and concentration by using slow, continuous movement of many body parts.
Yoga has gained momentum over the years among both the general population and mature adults. While more studies need to be done on the effectiveness of yoga, modest improvements in gait, balance, upper and lower body flexibility and lower body strength have been reported in the literature. Also, be aware that some yoga poses may be inappropriate for older adults with specific chronic diseases or orthopedic concerns.
HIIT Training (High Intensity Interval Training) is a very effective form of cardio conditioning. During the exercise intervals, heart rate and metabolism increase significantly. During periods of recovery (lower-intensity exercise), heart rate, oxygen usage, and metabolism remain elevated above the level that you would expect from low-intensity exercise.
One way to think of HIIT training is that it is kind of like shaking a snow globe. If you give it just a little shake then you don't disturb all the flakes and the snow disappears quickly. But, if you give a vigorous shake, you disturb many more flakes with the water swirling violently around inside and it takes much longer for the snow to disappear. HIIT training, therefore, "shakes up" your metabolism and the harder you exercise the more calories you burn afterwards.
If you are new to endurance training, start with something you enjoy doing like walking, swimming, dancing, hiking, etc. Then, to try higher intensity training, experiment by exercising a little harder than usual until you feel like you are getting out of breath and then back off to your usual pace or even a little below it. Eventually, try progressing to longer intervals (2-3 minutes) and limit how hard you go during the higher=intensity phase. Keep in mind that the recovery intervals should be longer than the higher-intensity intervals; shoot for a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3. A general idea would be to begin higher-intensity periods of about 30 seconds, and no more than 3 sets of intervals. Aim to increase over time and work up to as much as 2-3 minutes of higher-intensity, followed by adequate recovery for a total of 5 or more sets during a workout.