Our own Rev. Ralph Clingan, who in addition to being a pastor, is also a Certified Personal Trainer spoke to us about Exercise for Seniors. On March 27, 2013, he presented an overview of senior exercise and what we SHOULD be doing to maintain our bodies in a healthy condition.
He indicated that as we age, our caloric needs decrease while our nutritional needs remain the same. We also begin to lose body (muscle) mass and possibly bone mass (osteoporosis). We also lose the ability to carry oxygen in our blood, approximately 10% per decade as we age. BUT, regular exercise in seniors has been shown to slow and even partly reverse this loss of strength, improve cardiovascular status and metabolic fitness and increase flexibility and joint movement as well as balance and cognitive function. This is true over all age groups. One can regain up to 40% of lost muscle mass. Along with regular calcium intake, regular weight-bearing exercise has been shown to slow osteoporosis and strengthen bone.
The main exercise recommended for mobility is the squat, which needs to be done properly. Do not bend forward when squatting; rather, keep your knees over your toes and stick your "butt" out to the rear. Another good exercise is sitting in a chair with your feet about 1 foot in front of you, then standing up. This movement forces you to put weight on your heels first as you stand up. Seniors do not need to get down on the floor, do jumping jacks, etc., in order to exercise. These suggestions make us all turn pale. "How do I get up off the floor?", "I can't jump anymore" are frequent fearful questions. You can do moderate abdominal crunches while sitting in a chair; moderate push-ups while standing behind a chair and leaning on it; or use a stretch band. These exercises help your balance by strengthening your core.
Regular exercise can lead to a healthy longevity, something we all want!