Physical fitness and health are important at every age and stage of life. As humans age, however, there are significant physical changes that occur that must be taken into consideration. This is why personal training is an excellent option for seniors. In the following article, we’ll cover the physical changes one can expect as they age, the benefits of exercise as a senior, and why personal training is a great option for seniors looking to improve their health.
Physical Changes As you Age
If you are over the age of 30 your body has already started the ageing process. Biologically, humans reach their peak before or around 30 years old. After 30, the decline of biological functions is linear. Some functions decline faster than others, but the decline should be linear.
As you age your heart pumping strength decreases, blood pressure increases and the blood vessels get stiff. This is why cardiovascular exercise and healthy lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease are important throughout our lives.
You can also expect your lung capacity to decrease, meaning you are unable to inhale as deeply and therefore receive less oxygen than you used to. Your kidneys will no longer be able to flush out creatinine as efficiently (creatinine is a byproduct of muscle contractions).
Blood glucose also rises with age, which can lead to metabolic syndrome and may contribute to weight gain as you age. Carrying more weight puts pressure on the joints and bones, which can increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis as the density of the bones decrease with age.
And lastly, the skin becomes thinner and less elastic.
These are all consequences of specific cells in the body not refreshing and reproducing as efficiently as they did before. The body’s ability to absorb nutrients also begins to decline as we age, which can impact the normal functions of every system in the body.
As we mentioned before, this should all be a linear decline that happens gradually over decades. We say “should be” because there are a number of factors that can speed up or slow down the ageing process. Regular, day-to-day functions such as thinking, moving, eating, and digestion can be impacted by disorders and lifestyle choices. These include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Smoking, drinking, etc.
- Environmental (ex. living in a polluted area)
All of these and/or the introduction of a disease can impact the speed at which your regular functionality will decline with age. This is why making healthy choices throughout your life is so important. Every healthy choice you make is like a deposit into a healthy retirement fund. The more deposits you make, the more independent and healthy you’ll feel as you age. But how exactly does exercise improve your health as you age? We answer that below.
How Exercise Keeps You Healthy As You Age
Physical activity is one of the few things you can do to restore mobility, balance, strength and physical functionality after it has been lost. The Canadian Society of Exercise and Physiology recommends adults aged 65 years or older should get 150 minutes per week of physical activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more. By following these guidelines you’ll get the full benefits of physical activity.
Physical activity and regular exercise has been shown to reduce the mortality rates in even the deadliest of conditions, such as smoking and obesity. It will keep your bones strong, your heart healthy, and your muscles strong, which all contribute to mobility, balance, and independence later in life. With greater balance, strength, and bone health, physical activity can also help reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.
In fact, high-intensity resistance exercise is recommended for frail, older individuals and nursing home residents. These programs need to be monitored by a professional and the greatest improvements will be seen when the individual progressively lifts heavier and heavier weights over time.
Physical activity is also an important part of recovery and rehabilitation after cardiovascular disorders and events such as a heart attack. It can prevent and help manage the symptoms of diabetes, osteoporosis and colon cancer.
Physical activity is also a great way to help prevent and treat mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. A regular exercise routine can also be a great opportunity for social interaction and has been shown to increase one’s sense of self-confidence.
As long as you’re participating in physical activity in a safe way, then the benefits of exercise are too good to ignore. So what’s the best way to guarantee your workouts will be safe and appropriate for you? Let’s talk more about that below.
Why a Personal Trainer is a Great Option
Based on all of the information above, hiring a personal trainer is a great option for seniors. The research shows that when a senior engages in regular physical activity that is monitored for safety and progressively challenges the client – they see the best results.
One of the challenges cited in the research as something that prevents seniors from getting enough physical activity is that they have issues scheduling their exercise and working out on a consistent basis. A personal trainer will work with your schedule to find times that work for you. Having an appointment to stick to increases the level of accountability, which will result in a more consistent effort. When you show up week after week, you will see improvements in your strength, energy, sleep, and day-to-day functionality.
In those times when injuries happen, or there are changes to medical conditions, a personal trainer is there to put in the work of figuring out how your program can be adapted to the new situation. Feeling supported and eliminating the stress of “figuring it out” or worrying if it is safe is a major weight off your shoulders.
So to answer the question – no, you are not too old for a personal trainer. In fact, hiring a personal trainer is the best way to guarantee that you will exercise on a regular basis in a way that will challenge and improve your physical fitness and overall health.
Still not sure if personal training is right for you? Download the ebook below to get a real-life look at how a consistent, well-designed program with a qualified personal trainer improved the fitness of one of our clients.
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