Exercise is a very important aspect of life for all humans.  For some reason, fitness and exercise is often overlooked as it relates to our elderly population.  Just because a senior is limited in their capacity to do many types of exercise doesn’t mean that exercise is less important.  In fact, studies show exercise to have an even greater impact on quality of life and overall fitness as age increases.

All of that being said there is a major risk that seniors face in relation to exercise.  Overextending themselves or doing exercises detrimental to their long term well being are frequent errors seniors make while exercising. Detrimental exercises for seniors fall into one of three categories; Exercises that create new problems, Exercises that make existing problems worsen, and Exercises with too high of a degree of difficulty.

The leg press is an example of an exercise that can create new problems.  Unfortunately, the leg press gives one the illusion that their lower back is being protected when this is not the case.  Your lumbar spine is arch shaped and in order to strengthen it you must keep it in the arched position.  This is not how the leg press works resulting in an increased risk of damaging spinal plates.

Chest press is an example of an exercise that can make a preexisting condition worse.  Seniors should avoid this exercise with free weights and opt to use a machine instead.  While the chest press machine is safer, it is important to be sure to use light weights, move slowly, and never over-extend yourself.

Here are four simple exercises that you should consider doing instead:

  • Walking – Either on a treadmill or out on a sunny day, a brisk walk will get your heartrate up without too much stress on any other part of your body
  • Squats – Since walking won’t help much in increasing lower body strength, squats are a great exercise to implement along with walking.
  • Bench Press – All of the good aspects of the chest press without as much risk to exacerbate a previous condition
  • Stretching – The benefits of stretching are well documented.  A light Yoga workout has shown great results in adults over the age of 70

 

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