As stated in Part 1, the UK now has an ageing population. In fact there are more pensionable citizens than children. It’s the same story all over the world. So it is more important than ever for this ageing population to stay as healthy, fit and functional as possible.
I looked at aerobic exercise previously, this time I want to concentrate on resistance and balance training. These two elements are critical for quality of life in our later years.
Weight training is crucial as we get older
It increases bone density and guards against the potentially disastrous effects of osteoporosis. It can also increase insulin sensitivity, metabolic rate and range of movement. It also helps build confidence in movement in older people and therefore has a huge impact on independence and self-perception.
As we enter our later years it is important that strength training targets and emphasizes our postural muscle groups in legs and upper body.
Ideally two or three circuit-type workouts a week will be effective and manageable. Single sets of 8-10 repetitions will be a great starting point. To increase strength as progressions are made, weight, sets, repetitions and rest period between sets can be altered to add to the intensity.
Endurance & Strength
In order to increase muscular endurance, sets of 12-15 can be performed on a consistent basis. In order to increase strength, sets of 8-12 using a weight that can only be lifted for that number. The additional stress that this applies to the muscles will increase strength, however it must also come with greater consideration of injury.
Rest between sets for the older exerciser can be around two minutes.
‘Functional exercise’ is a phrase many people hear all the time but may not know what it really means. And functional exercise is precisely what older exercisers need…
It is all about the movements we use every day and ensuring we are capable of them with no or at least minimal discomfort. So exercises involving all three planes of movement as well as acceleration, deceleration and stabilisation. Core strengthening exercises are also crucial – at all ages – but certainly as we age.
Life in Balance
The older we get the more critical balance becomes. For the vast majority of our lives most of us take balance for granted, but in later life it is the difference between the quality of life and decent functionality or complete restriction and constant injury.
Sitting up requires balance, getting out of a chair, walking… These are very basic physical activities that are key to normal function, and they all require degrees of strength and balance.
It is a fact that people who don’t smoke and who retain normal weight and take exercise in mid and later adulthood live longer and suffer much shorter periods of decline and disability.
It is also a fact that all adults respond to both aerobic exercise training and resistance work – this is particularly true of an ageing population. Functional capacity is increased significantly which means to a far greater quality of life later into life.
Connect here with WatchFit expert Kate Staples