During every stage of life it is highly recommended for all of us to experience physical activity. As we get older, however, it gets harder to exercise the way that we should. Whether we’re sitting in a car to commute to work, sitting at a desk working, or sitting on a couch watching TV--it can get very easy to feel tired and complacent and put off exercise for another day.
But eventually that procrastination can come back to haunt you. Whether your general practitioner instructs you to exercise more because of a looming type 2 diabetes diagnosis, or a cardiologist encourages more physical activity to combat heart disease, or if you simply want to get into better shape in order to play with your grandchildren, the connection between health and exercise cannot be refuted.
It can, however, be a shock to your system to jump into a new workout routine. If you are interested in new senior workouts and you are an older man, there are some questions you should ask your doctor before you begin:
1. I haven’t been especially active over the years but I want to start exercising--is it safe for me to start now?
Yes, but within the context of knowing your own limits. If you have already been diagnosed with heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or cancer it’s important to check with your doctor about the specific limits that might be imposed on your new exercise routine.
When it comes to health and exercise, it’s always better to be active but err on the side of caution rather than be completely sedentary. For example, if you can’t go for a jog, taking a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood is a great alternative, especially compared to simply sitting on your couch and watching TV.
2. Do I need to take a stress test before starting a new exercise routine?
A stress test would only be recommended at the doctor’s orders, specifically if they think the added physical activity could place a dangerous strain on your heart. In an AARP article entitled, “10 Questions Every Man Should Ask His Doctor,” they include a question about health and exercise which also touches on the necessity of a stress test.
Their answer explains that a stress test will only be recommended by your doctor if he or she has cause for concern about your heart health, especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
3. I’m a 60-year-old-man, how much exercise do I need each week?
The recommended amount of exercise for a 60 year old man includes 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity each day, along with strength training exercises two to three times per week.
The cardiovascular activity could range from spending time on the treadmill or elliptical machine at the gym to walking through your neighborhood, to swimming laps in a community pool. The goal of the cardiovascular activity is to get your heart rate up and the blood pumping. Adding strength training activities to the mix will help preserve bone and muscle mass, which naturally decline with age. Strength training typically involves lifting free weights or machines, but if you are around your young grandchildren regularly, lifting them up is also a great way to build muscle!
4. Which senior workouts are best for my long term health?
In addition to the cardiovascular exercises and strength training exercises mentioned above, senior workouts should include exercises that improve both balance and flexibility to their health and exercise plans. Since 1 in 3 older adults experiences a fall each year, working to strengthen your core and improve your balance can help prevent you from becoming a statistic.
Exercises that improve balance include Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga. Even if you have limited mobility or are new to exercising, these activities can all be modified to help you move at your own pace and reap the same health benefits. Exercises for a 60 year old man that aim to improve flexibility include simple stretches or even Yoga, which has the added benefit of improving balance as well.
5. If I’m exercising, should I also make changes to my diet?
This is a complicated question, because it depends on what your current eating habits include and whether or not you are exercising with a specific goal in mind. For example, if you are exercising in order to lose weight, you need to restrict calories. If you are exercising to help get your diabetes under control, you also need to make sure that you are eating foods that encourage healthy management of your diabetes. Or if you are exercising to boost your heart health, you should probably avoid salty foods and foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats.
It’s best to talk to your physician about specific dietary concerns they might have for you.
Once you get clearance from your physician to start a new exercise program, you should still take certain precautions to help keep you safe, like taking your Mobile Guardian with you to the gym or out on your long walks around the neighborhood. The Mobile Guardian system is able to leave the house with you, providing you with a direct line to help should an emergency occur.