Senior Fitness
Frequently Asked Questions

Regular exercise will improve your health, mood, quality of life, give you more energy, and improve your physical functioning. If you want to learn more about your own fitness/activity levels, the Canadian physical activity guidelines are extremely informative https://csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_0-65plus_en.pdf.
One of the most exhilarating feelings of fitness is getting addicted to the post-exercise rush of endorphins – those little guys who dance around in your head and generate “highs”.

Absolutely you can. Age is not a Barrie-r (pun intended). All too often, age is perceived as a barrier to exercising. Research reveals that exercise at any age results in positive gains in muscle mass, muscle strength and bone density, in addition to better mood and improvements to overall health. Choose an exercise that you enjoy – don’t push yourself too hard to begin with. For encouragement, you could exercise with friends or a group. Set a target of what you want to achieve, and record this in a journal or on your cell phone. Remember: It is never too late to get into shape.

You are encouraged to consult your medical doctor if you have not exercised for a long period of time. Then choose an activity that you will enjoy. For instance, you might decide on walking. You will then need to decide on a goal you wish to accomplish, which is realistic, measurable, achievable and time-bound. For instance, if your goal is “to get fit”, this meets none of these criteria. However, if you choose to walk for 20 minutes three times weekly within 3 months, this goal meets them all. On the other hand, if you decide to reach 1 km after 6 months, this is too easily attainable. You may wish to see my blog “Setting Goals” for more information.

Yes, yes and yes. Muscle mess declines with age, particularly if your life becomes sedentary, and you stop working out. The truth is that your muscles have a mantra: Use it or lose it. That said, it is absolutely possible to regain muscle mass as well as bone mineral density. The price: working out regularly, and making a major focus on your nutrition and diet. Consulting a nutritionist could be most advantageous. If you wish, I would be happy to send you a copy of my as-yet-unpublished blog on Nutrition. A very informative article: How To Gain Muscle Mass After 50 can be found at www.webmd.com

If you are in good health, the general recommendation is 150 minutes weekly of moderate cardio activity, spread out over 3 days or more. If you are just starting, don’t do too much too soon – 10/15 minutes daily 2/3 times weekly is a good start. Please see the next question for examples of moderate cardio activities.

Light intensity: slow walking, dancing slowly, light yard work, housework, shopping, stretching, golf (using cart).
Moderate intensity: hiking, walking uphill, yoga, housework that involves intense cleaning, moderate dancing, tennis, recreational swimming.

This is a way to measure relative activity intensity.  In general, if you are doing light-intensity exercise, you will be able to “talk” and “sing” normally. Whereas, with moderate-intensity exercise, you can talk but not sing. In vigorous-intensity exercise, you might be able to say a few words only. For the difference among these activities, please see the previous FAQ.

People of every age should stretch. I am not addressing  stretching before or after exercising – that is a post in itself – but rather I am focussing on  the issue of regular stretching during the day. As we age, stiffness settles into our joints, and we find that it is more difficult to maintain an active lifestyle. Consequently, it becomes imperative to stretch your muscles. Regular daily stretching is crucial for promoting flexibility, and helping your joints maintain a healthy range of motion. In doing so, you also lower the chances of joint and muscle strain.

There are many different methods of stretching, but the two most recommended are the static and dynamic stretches. Static stretches involve holding a position for a minimum of 30 seconds to be effective,  then relax and repeat. They can be held for several minutes if you have the time. You can perform them once daily, or multiple times for better flexibility results. Dynamic stretches are typically done before physical activity, and have been shown to be more beneficial than static stretches in warming up your muscles in preparation for exercising.
Stretching is critical for maintaining your body in peak condition.

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