Senior Fitness: Commitment To Health by Rick MacKay

In my experience, taking group fitness classes (boot camps and other circuit types), I noticed they were all structured in a similar way. Everybody performs at mostly the same level of participation, regardless of their health and fitness levels. Before you start any fitness program you need to ask yourself “what am I looking to accomplish?”  Two of the most cited goals are “I want to lose some weight and get in better shape.”  Initially, your goals should be realistic, don’t start a program that can soon become overwhelming. This commitment to health and fitness should be a lifestyle change that will allow you to live a more productive life, feeling good about the way look and feel.

It was not until I had my own personal set back that I developed a program that gives all seniors, no matter their physical condition, a chance to be part of something they can perform at their own pace. I had been working out daily, but what I did not realize that over the years my balance and range of motion was not where it should be. Through physical therapy, which involved stretching and balance exercises, I was able to improve my balance and range of motion.

In my research, I discovered that there is something all seniors should be aware of; one out of every three seniors over the age of 65 will fall within one year. Of course, while I am addressing seniors, the fact is that what I address here applies to not only seniors, but people of all ages, and especially people who have some physical limitation or hardship.

We all need exercises that can help us improve our overall range of motion, flexibility, and balance. It was then that I decided to incorporate strength, stretch, and balance into a circuit class. This allows all participants to interact in a group atmosphere and perform at a low to medium impact. These classes are not a competition and allow all to perform at their own pace. Over time, those working at a lower impact pace will progress to a medium or even a higher level, based on their own ability.

The class starts with a series of stretches followed by some cardio exercises. From there we move into a series of more stretches to improve balance and range of motion. We then move into the strength part that involves three circuits. Participants perform strength exercises at three different stations that address upper and lower body muscles. This takes 45 minutes with short little breaks and allows participants to constantly hydrate, as needed. We end with a brief cool down and a series of stretches.

The essential point is, when you begin an exercise regimen, be sure to include exercises that incorporate not only strength and cardio, but also exercises for balance, flexibility, and range of motion.  In future articles, we will address these and other additional topics. Next month, we will address the preparations you should consider before starting a fitness program.

Rick MacKay, is a Certified Fitness Trainer who has spent past five years working with seniors. His focus is to put together a workout plan that motivates people to commit to a better and healthier lifestyle, one that would help them feel better about themselves and have some fun doing it.

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