Before you start exercising: Some helpful tips for older adults

Before you start exercising: Some helpful tips for older adults

When starting out in any exercise or sport program as an older person, there are some key principles and tips to adhere to. These include:

1. Get a clearance from your family doctor and/or medical specialist.

2. If you have a chronic disease or condition or family history, get a referral to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) to undertake the ESSA Adult Pre-Exercise Screening System first which will assist you in making informed choices.

3. Focus on starting slowly with small volumes of training that gradually increase in frequency, duration, and intensity in that order. Consult an AEP or Accredited Exercise Scientist (AES) to assist and monitor this for you.

4. Think about asking a buddy to join you. You are more likely to stick with your exercise plan if you share it with someone close to you.

5. Set goals or targets that are easily attainable aiming to meet the guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week AND strength and balance training twice a week.

6. Self-monitor what you are doing by keeping records of times or how you are feeling.

7. Breaking up an exercise program or doing exercise in intervals is a great way to include rest in your program. Remember, every step and repetition counts, and some exercise is better than no exercise at all.

8. Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting. Try breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible with some movements and incidental exercises (e.g., checking the letterbox).

9. Get strong as part of your training. Research has shown that a lack of strength is a major risk factor for musculoskeletal injury in both young and older adults. Moreover, muscle mass and strength decline significantly after the age of 50 years and dramatically after 65 years of age. An accredited exercise professional can help with this aspect of your training.

Still unsure on how to include more exercise and physical activity into your daily routine?

Think about what you currently enjoy or used to enjoy doing, can you implement these activities again? Also think about any physical activities you always wanted to try, but never did. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is just not true – it’s never too late to try something new and in turn it’s a great way to stimulate new pathways in the brain and even make new connections in the community.

If leaving the house or your community is difficult, there are various resources available that offer examples of online exercises and workouts, such as Exercise Right at Home. Home furniture (table, bench and chairs) can also be utilised in other ways to create a functional home exercise program such as chair stands, squats, going up and down stairs and even lunges.

Read more in the Exercise for Older Adults eBook! Download here. 

Written by Exercise & Sports Science Australia. Peer reviewed by Exercise and Sports Science Professionals. 

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