Create Your Ideal Exercise RoutineDr. Jim Collins
Exercise is important at every stage of life, but becomes vital as we age for optimum health and wellness. Beyond obvious physical benefits, exercise is also associated with psychological and emotional health. A practical and effective exercise program depends on personal preferences, physical abilities, and one’s schedule.
Various types of exercise include a warm up, aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance exercises and a cool down. Each type has its benefits, particularly for older adults. Each type has also been found to be beneficial for most people.
The warm up increases body temperature by a couple degrees, and is helpful in reducing injury while improving performance. Examples of a warm up include stretching, jumping jacks, jogging in place, and push-ups. Of these, stretching is the most important. Begin with stretching.
Aerobic exercise enhances the vascular system, heart and lungs. It increases heart rate and causes deeper breathing. Intensity of aerobic workout is a calculation of maximum heart rate, which is the number of heart beats per minute at peak exertion. The formula for this is 220 minus your age.
Resistance exercise reduces frailty (loss of muscle mass) and strengthens the muscles. The main way to achieve this is by lifting weights or using exercise bands. As we grow older, resistance exercise becomes more important for strength, balance, and flexibility.
Flexibility exercises promote relaxation, decrease stress and reduce risk of injury. Gentle stretching through methods like yoga or Tai Chi are good examples. These exercises are also important for joint and muscle health later in life.
Balance is important for its ability to reduce falls and related injuries like fractures. Standing on one leg for a moment or tandem walking (as if on a tightrope) are examples.
A 5-minute cool down is important for reducing fatigue and soreness. It can also help in avoiding muscle cramping and tightness produced by lactic acid released during a rigorous workout.
While each type of exercise can be effective in maximizing physical and emotional health, it’s more important to create an exercise program that is sustainable and motivating. A program that isn’t used is no good to anyone.