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Senior Fitness - Tips for Getting Started 

 

May is a month of change, flowers bloom, the sun warms, and summer fitness goals take shape. We conclude the month with an important celebration… National Senior Fitness Day on May 29th. As those summer goals become clearer, we start to create plans to help us achieve them. The CDC recommends adults aged 65 and older need: At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. Meeting your physical activity goals is shown to prevent health problems while keeping seniors independent. It is important to focus on both aerobic activity as well as muscle strengthening. Meeting the recommended guidelines can be as simple as 30 minutes of activity 5 days per week with two of the days being focused on strength training our major muscle groups. Now that we know what we need, let’s look at how to accomplish it! 

The key to being successful and safe when beginning your physical activity routine is to build slowly from your current fitness level. Fear of injury is one of the most sighted barriers to physical fitness among seniors. Help alleviate some of the fear by having a conversation with your physician about adding exercise to your daily routine or before significantly increasing your level of activity. Ask questions like: What types of exercise would work best for me? Are there any activities or exercises I should avoid? How does my health condition affect my ability to work out?  Once you’ve had these conversations it’s time to take the first step.  

The first step is making exercise a priority, perhaps it’s the first item on your calendar each day or maybe it finds a place just after lunch each afternoon. No matter the time, having a scheduled appointment for fitness might just make it a little harder to ignore. No one likes to leave one thing on the list not checked at the end of the day! The key to keeping that appointment is making your physical activity interesting and enjoyable… so if you love walking outdoors or enjoy a dance class to get moving do it! Exercise doesn’t have to happen in the gym or with a set of weights (although we would love to see you in the Y) if those aren’t the activities you enjoy you aren’t likely to stick with it. So, get creative and add variety to your exercise routine.  

Step two on our journey to physical fitness is finding ways to fit exercise into your day. We have all heard the advice to do squats or march in place during commercial breaks of your favorite shows, and the idea is brilliant… but perhaps in time you make a flip flop and exercise during the show and use the commercials as your active recovery breaks. There are lots of exercises you can complete while watching i.e. squats, high knee marches, kicks, low impact jacks, lunges etc. It turns out that having your show to focus on makes the work seem to go by quicker. Maybe you’re not a television watcher, could you park further away from the grocery, or walk to get your mail instead of pulling up to the mailbox. Simple exchanges allow the opportunity for more movement each day.  

Our final step in achieving our goals is keeping track of our progress. Stay motivated by celebrating milestones and successes. As you create your plan set up checkpoints, perhaps monthly, to check progress and don’t forget to build in rewards for success. Write down something you will do for yourself when you reach a milestone in your journey. Maybe it’s a new workout top or flower for your garden. Set attainable goals and celebrate your success or show grace in a near miss. The beauty of making physical fitness your goal is that you can continue the journey endlessly. There are always ways to grow!  

 

Anna Stech, Armbrust YMCA Health & Wellness Director

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Category: Health & Wellness
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Anna Stech is the Health & Wellness Director at the Armbrust Family YMCA. She teaches several formats like HIIT, Group Fight, Barre, and Pilates. She loves teaching her strength and stretch class to our Active Older Adults group as well. Anna is also a Red Cross CPR/ AED instructor that helps to keep our staff certified to keep our members safe. Anna is passionate about serving her community and loves helping motivate people to get moving!

While you can find her at the YMCA most days she enjoys her time at home with her twin girls, Abby and Sophia and her husband, Gabe. Anna enjoys reading, spending time outside and golfing! Stop at Armbrust YMCA any time and introduce yourself. She would love to welcome you into class!