With a physical, older adults can establish workout routines that fit their conditions and needs.
Advisors: Iván Leonardo Duque Vera – Sports medicine doctor, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Margarita María Covelli Suárez – Physical therapist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Strength, balance and flexibility in the arms and legs are some of the physical abilities that exercises for older adults should strengthen. Their workout routines should therefore focus on functional exercises that include daily activities as part of their exercise routine such as picking something up from the floor, climbing stairs or carrying a somewhat heavy object from one place to another.
The need to work different physical skills becomes very important as people age, as these skills tend to diminish over time. According to sports medicine doctor Iván Leonardo Duque Vera, training regimes should therefore include respiratory, stretching and strengthening exercises.
Dr. Duque recommends doing exercises that are a common part of everyday life, as routine and well-guided activities can include exercises that keep the body active, “There should be several different aspects to your training plan, working on resistance, strength, flexibility, and most importantly, exercises that improve your lung capacity, known as cardio training.”
As physical therapist Margarita María Covelli Suárez emphasizes, the key is in choosing to do functional exercises where you work on different skills, “The elderly lose strength, balance, perception and flexibility over time; the idea with their workouts is to include improving or reconditioning all these physical skills.” To do this, it is important to emphasize doing everyday movements, using light weights and slowly working your way up.
“Ideally, they should work all their physical skills using very simple movements. It is also important to take their individual characteristics into account,” Covelli states.
The physical therapist recommends getting a physical when creating workout plans in order to identify the activities that will be done and to account for the person’s physical conditions. “Group or generalized exercises sometimes do not meet the elderly’s needs, who have to be more careful of their physical activity. It is also important to take each condition into account through an initial evaluation that analyzes how their physical capacities, cardiovascular condition, stability, abdominal and core strength is. Based on these results, a workout plan can be made that is tailored to improving their physical characteristics,” Covelli explains.
After getting a physical, the recommendation is to establish a routine. “As the World Health Organization suggests, in order to see changes, the exercise must be done progressively six times a week. For those who are not as disciplined, the suggestion is three times a week,” as Covelli states.
Creating habits through a routine
Through the guidance of a professional, try focusing on doing three groups of exercises.
1. Hiking. Walking briskly, walking or jogging, and running – if possible – is one of the best options because it is part of what makes up our human nature. The intensity levels of these exercises are also something to explore.
2. Biking. Biking on an exercise bike, conventional bike or elliptical bike all meet the requirements for being cardio activities and they have the added advantage of exercising the joints, similar to walking or running.
3. Swimming. Doing exercise routines in the water and swimming (if the person knows how) are also good alternatives for the elderly.
Related: Making movement part of your routine