You are never too old for exercise. Suppose you can contract your muscles at all. In that case, you are capable of exercising safely and productively, regardless of your age or physical condition. By “exercise” I specifically mean strength training using slow and controlled movements or no movement at all (isometrics) performed in accordance with muscle and joint function, addressing all the major muscle groups.
Moving slowly or performing isometric contractions (working for one muscle group against an immobile object or another muscle group without movement) makes it possible for you to safely train with a high enough effort to effectively stimulate muscular strength improvements size.
The older you are, the more important exercise becomes because many of the problems associated with aging are caused by or related to sarcopenia, the loss of muscle we experience as we age if we do not exercise properly to combat it.
Losing muscle mass reduces your strength and endurance, your metabolism, your insulin sensitivity, your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, and is associated with loss of bone mass, just for starters. If you let yourself go too far, eventually weakness, sickness, and frailty will rob you of your functional ability and independence.
It is never too late to turn things around. Still, the earlier you start, the easier it will be, and the sooner you will experience all the benefits of proper exercise.
The following are a few general guidelines if your older have not exercised or not exercised for a period of time:
|Start out with just a few basic, multi-joint exercises working the major muscle groups. Perform one to two work sets of each exercise per workout. Some find their joints tolerate certain exercises better after a light warm-up set. However, for most this is unnecessary if proper form is used.|
|Perform the exercises with only a light weight at first and focus on learning to move and reverse direction smoothly and breathe continuously.|
|Be very conservative with repetition speed; take at least two to three seconds to lift and three to four seconds to lower the weight, reversing direction as smoothly as possible without bouncing, yanking, or jerking the weight. |
Pause for a second or two in the fully-contracted position on compound pulling exercises and simple exercises. If you’re moving slowly enough, six to ten repetitions should take you around sixty to ninety seconds to complete. If you have any joint problems or are concerned about the risk of injury, you can move even more slowly.
|As the exercises become more challenging, you’ll start to experience elevated heart rate and breathing. At first, allow a minute or two between exercises for heart rate and breathing to return to normal before performing the next exercise. Over time as your conditioning improves gradually reduce the rest between exercises to improve the cardiovascular and metabolic effect.|
|Train no more than two to three times a week the first few weeks while learning the exercises then cut back to training only twice a week. Some people may require even more recovery time/less frequent training than this. The amount of recovery time required between workouts increases with age and can vary considerably between individuals.|
|It is normal for your muscles to burn, and for your breathing and heart rate to increase but if something hurts or if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, or faint or think you may be starting to get a headache to stop the exercise immediately and carefully exit the machine or set down the weight.|
|On other days when not strength training, try going for a walk (approximately 45 minutes) or swim for approximately 30-45 minutes. On your walk days, don’t worry about power walking or walking fast. Don’t worry about racing the clock or breaking a world record or trying to win Olympic gold on your swim days. |
For most people a nice steady 20 to 30 laps of an Olympic size pool is sufficient. The days you are not strength training should be more about engaging in recreational activities that you enjoy for your own personal enjoyment, including improving mental health.
If you aren’t able to go to a commercial gym, and if you don’t have any exercise equipment at home it is still possible to exercise safely and effectively using only your body weight for resistance or to perform isometrics by working for muscle groups against each other or against an immobile object.