Just Do It!
Some time ago, I had a friend who took me under his wing and taught me the basics of weight training and I have been enjoying it since. Over time, I have altered my routine and emphasis from power lifting to an emphasis on maintaining my health and preventing long-term injuries.
There are well more than 100 clinical trials demonstrating that progressive resistance training (weight training) can help Silver Surfers in daily activities, preventing injuries and osteoporosis, and improving general health when done two or three times a week.
Exercise can be done with free weights, exercise machines, or elastic bands. There are two essential components for us: First is that you find something you can enjoy and feel safe with; second is that the resistance, or level of difficulty, increases as you get stronger.
Personally, I spend one day on weights for 20 minutes to a half hour and the alternative day on an aerobic exercise. I also take at least one day off a week to give my whole body a rest. But what is essential for you, is that you do something you can enjoy and see progress with.
As with any activity, it is absolutely essential that before starting on any exercise, you check with your physician and discuss what you want to undertake and what he or she would recommend for you.
I have worked out in large, fancy gyms designed to be welcoming to all ages and genders with a huge variety of resistance and aerobic equipment, rather crude gyms for “muscle heads” only with only free weights, private basement gyms with limited and custom-tailored equipment, and the local YMCA.
Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages, but each of them also has in common the personal dynamic of once your peers see you are serious and dedicated to improving yourself, they are welcoming and helpful if asked at a convenient time. Of course in the larger facilities, there are organized classes of many fitness activities as well as personal trainers available for a fee. So with a little research, you should be able to find the facility, peer group, activities, and equipment that will safely, comfortably, and enjoyably allow you to become more fit and reap the short and long term benefits.
In subsequent articles and in response to your questions, I will research and review in detail various exercises and activities with the pros and cons of each. Of course there are numerous internet sites and books that are excellent resources for starting and increasing your benefits, safety, and enjoyment.
For now I will include a nice overview quote from livestrong.com for a quick summary:
Safety and Control
One of the benefits of proper exercise is the easing of stiffness and joint pain. For people over 60, this means the best kind of equipment offers low-impact and controlled movements. An elliptical machine is safe because you never pick your foot up from the machine. This provides a lower risk of landing incorrectly. After you step onto the elliptical, adjust your feet so they are centered on each pedal. Your hands should be at a comfortable height on the handlebars. Start moving your feet in a forward or backward motion. Use your hands to push and pull on the handlebars for a greater arm workout.
The elliptical is also a great choice for indoor aerobic activity. It increases your heart rate and builds endurance. The stationary bike is another option. Adjust the height of the bike seat to suit your size. Place your hands comfortably on the handlebars without leaning your body forward. Like the elliptical, the bike has a screen that displays your speed. Take note of a speed that is comfortable enough for you to still talk at as you exercise. When you’re ready for more work, increase the amount of time you’re spending on the machine, and then you may be able to increase your speed as well.
Part of the natural aging process includes loss of muscle mass. This can be overcome through strength training. The rowing machine is a good option for seniors. To use it, maintain a straight back. Pull the handlebars toward your torso with control as your feet press onto the foot pads to straighten your knees. Bend your knees and uncurl your arms to release and then repeat. Dumbbells are also a great tool for strength improvement because they come in small incremental weight changes. When using dumbbells, stand near a bench so that you can set the weights down without having to stoop all the way to the floor.
Read more Gym Use Of Equipment For Seniors Over 60.
Senior Fitness: The Diet and Exercise Program for Maximum Health and Longevity Paperback by Ruth E. Heidrich
Strength Training for Seniors: An Instructor Guide for Developing Safe and Effective Programs by Wayne L. Westcott