Five Do’s and Don’ts for Exercising As You Age

– by guest blogger Serena Bridges

As an older adult, exercising is one of the most important things you can do for your health and independence. It can prevent many of the health problems that come with age and help your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others. But, before you start an exercise routine, there are a few things you should keep in mind. 

DON’T Focus on the Weights

Some of us who have been working out for a while forget that we are not 25-years-old anymore. As we age, our bodies are more susceptible to injury, less flexible, and take longer to recover from workouts. There is a saying in travel, “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.” Well, when you enter a workout environment, remember that “any workout you can walk away from without injury is a good one.” Forget the weights and focus on getting a decent workout in without injury. 

DO take advantage of Assistance

Many gyms offer free consultations with new and existing clients. These can range from exercise and nutrition advice to a simple orientation to the gym’s exercising equipment. Take advantage of this free advice to plan your workouts or to just get familiar with the equipment that is available at the gym. Just like the squeaky wheel gets the grease, say something to your attendant and get some attention so you can better utilize the equipment you’re already invested in. 

DON’T Skip the Warm-up

If you resonated with point #1 above, you’ll recognize this as advice in the same vein. As we get older, we have to prepare our bodies for any kind of physical exertion. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you are properly warmed up before exercise. There are two key components to a good warm-up –  body temperature and joint flexibility. Some key on heart rate as a warmup indicator and that is not wrong, but the true goal of a slightly elevated heart rate (age-adjusted) is to warm up that actual temperature of your body so that it is better prepared to exercise. The second factor, joint flexibility, is more exercise-specific. That is, if you are working on upper body exercises, then you will want to warm up your shoulder joints. If you are working on lower body exercises, then you will want to warm up your hips and knees. I prefer a fast-paced walk on a treadmill with a slight incline for 4-6 minutes to get my body ready. 

DO Be Patient with Yourself

If Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is your current physical condition. Remember that health is more of a daily routine than a short-term weight loss fix. With any new routine, there are going to be stops and starts, good days and bad. As long as you are committed to making exercise a permanent part of your life, don’t be upset with yourself the first time you miss a workout or have to cancel an appointment with your personal trainer. “Journey before destination.” 

DON’T Forget to Have Fun

As with many other activities, if it isn’t fun, then we will likely not stick with it for long. You should have a well-rounded exercise routine that incorporates upper and lower body, flexibility, and cardiovascular training. However, how you go about it is up to you. Maybe your flexibility training is 10 mins of stretching exercises after a bout of cardio, or maybe you’ll sign up for a yoga class. Cardio could be walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes or it could be a spin cycle class. Go at your own pace. Pick exercises that feel good and keep you coming back for more. 

By incorporating a well-rounded exercising routine, you’ll enjoy life longer and fuller with those you love. 

A Certified Personal Trainer who is A.C.E. certified, Serena Bridges is a personal training expert and enthusiastic developer of healthy aging strategies. She graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science. She and her family currently reside in Prior Lake, Minnesota.