Exercises for the Elderly

bending over exercises

Yoga, Laughter Yoga, Pranayam and Meditation are very popular among the senior citizens. Walking comes second with the latest trend being gym workouts. Exercise gives a feeling of well-being in the elderly. Experts say that as you grow older, weight-training becomes necessary to bring down the fat in the body. It is important to get regular health check-ups and watch your diet.

Considering your health condition especially if you have weak knee joints or painful joints, high blood pressure—you have to be careful about the exercises you choose. You need to tread the fitness world with caution if you have a diabetes, cardiac problems, asthma, arthritis, backache or hormonal imbalances in women.

Elderly can indulge in any kind of workouts provided their fitness level is good. Before joining a gym or starting with any exercise, it is essential to get all the relevant reports done such as lipid profile, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. As you grow old, your bone density decreases, especially in women who are prone to osteoporosis.

In order to increase the muscle and bone density, and the metabolic rate, light aerobics is recommended. This includes exercise at a slow pace done at your own leisure. Walking in the park or on a beach or building society campus, meeting with friends—all help in both physical and mental well-being. At the gym, treadmill is the most preferred equipment. Cardio and weight exercises are also popular with the elderly.

Under the Weather Workout

There is a common query: If you are unwell, feeling feverish, or are down with a viral infection, can you workout under these conditions? What is the connection between illness and fitness? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, if you have cold without fever or body ache, intensive exercise can be undertaken a few days after the symptoms have disappeared. But if you have had fever, fatigue, body ache or swollen lymph glands you need to wait for about 3-4 weeks before resuming intensive training.

While sick with a common cold, mild to moderate exercise may not be harmful as long as the symptoms are minor. In fact, exercise may help you relieve nasal congestion. Sneezing or coughing around the gym however is a bad idea. You can go for a walk or exercise on your own. If you feel well enough there is no reason for you to give up on exercise. However, in case of any serious ailments such as pneumonia or a cardiac problem, mild exercise may be enough.

Exercising with a low grade fever requires you to drink plenty of fluids. Fever causes you to burn more calories and uses up water from your body. Drink plenty of water and be nutritionally sound while you exercise. A light workout is good while you are not feeling so good. However, you must not overdo it.

The thumb rule here is that if you have runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing or even sore throat, you go ahead and workout; but if you have fever, fatigue, muscle aches, chest congestion, tightness in the chest, hacking cough, upset stomach, you need to avoid the workout.

Remember, if you are not feeling up to the mark but still wish to exercise, lessen the intensity of your workout. If exercise worsens your pain or symptoms, stop and rest.
Words of Caution

Some people get obsessed with exercise. Overdoing the exercise may do more harm than good. According to experts the body strenthens muscle and bone in response to your exercise regimen. This means you will be able to do the next session of physical activity with lesser effort. Sufficient rest is also required for the body to repair the micro-tears it suffers in the muscles.

A balanced workout needs to be complemented with a balanced nutritious diet. Obsession with nutritional supplements can become dangerous at times. It is true that supplements may be necessary in several cases; however, not everyone needs them. These should be taken only if required. If you take supplements such as protein shakes, which are popular among body building buffs; without any medical advice, you may be doing more harm than good. Too much protein can put a strain on your kidneys.

Supermarkets are filled with a number of fortified nutrient-filled powders, fibre-packed flour (which is claimed to manage cholesterol) or even calcium-rich ice creams. You need not spend on such products unless you have been specifically asked by your dietitian or doctor.

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