Often when we consider our health and well-being we are trying to navigate between which exercise modality is going to be best for us as an individual.
Especially as we age, we are looking to consider what is most effective and whether we can incorporate it into our lifestyle and routines.
Below we discuss some popular options in best order to help you evaluate what is most suitable for you in helping you feel fitter and maintaining your weight if you are past 50 years old.
Gym Work (including classes)
Resistance training or strength training can be considered anything from body weight strength to lifting very heavy weights. There is a huge array of benefits associated with resistance training. These include increasing your resting metabolic rate so that you can even continue to burn more fat after you have completed your workout. It is considered one of the best ways to build muscle and lose weight and therefore make several aspects of your life easier. There is also multitude of exercise options in the gym, including attending group exercise classes which help promote social engagement as well. However, there can be a cost involved if you are attending your local gym or rehab clinic or if you are looking to purchase some equipment to complete your exercises at home. If you haven’t been to the gym before or don’t feel confident with what you are doing, it is best to consult an Allied Health Professional such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to safely assess your current capacity and design a program aimed towards achieving your goals.
Swimming / Exercising in Water
When we consider swimming or exercising in water, we commonly think of the increased buoyancy and therefore the reduced load that exercising in water affords our joints. This can be extremely beneficial in assisting us in getting our body moving in a pain free way. Swimming is also a great whole body activity that provides its own resistance in moving your body through water which is great for your fitness. In saying this, to attain the strength and cardiovascular benefits associated with exercising in water, we need to exercise for sustained periods such as those when lap swimming. It is therefore considered a great option especially for maintaining fitness in a non-weight bearing setting.
Regular walking is an effective way to make you feel fitter and maintain your weight. Not only can it be a great social activity to do with family and friends, but it is also super convenient and a great way to get started on your exercise journey. It is considered a low impact exercise and of course, it doesn’t come with a cost! It is easy to build it into your daily routine and can be self-regulated depending on how your body feels on the particular day. But when it comes to feeling fitter and maintaining weight, we need to be walking quite regularly at a brisk pace to enable us to reap the most rewards. This is due to the reduced stress that walking places on the body when compared with other aerobic exercise modalities. Hence, it is best to aim to include walking as one component of your daily routine.
Cycling is also a popular exercise modality that can help you feel fitter and maintain your weight. Whether it be on a stationary bike within a gym or riding outdoors amongst the sunshine, cycling is another great non-weight bearing and low impact activity on the body. This is again useful in alleviating your joints of some of the stress that weight bearing activities endure. Cycling is also great for people of all ages and fitness levels. Once you have purchased your bike or your gym membership, you can look to incorporate cycling into your lifestyle such as through riding to and from work each day.
Pilates / Core Classes
Pilates is a great beginner level exercise modality for people over 50 that is very enjoyable. Whilst it may not be the most effective exercise in terms of burning kilojoules in comparison with other aerobic exercises such as jogging, people often find Pilates enjoyable and therefore have greater success in integrating it into their lifestyle. In saying this, it can come at a cost and sometimes requires the use of reformers which can make it a little more difficult to find availability at convenient times. Pilates can also be quickly progressed to further challenge the core and build lean muscle and therefore can cater for everyone from beginners to advanced.
Jogging is a great exercise that can be done anywhere and is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. If you are only just getting started, the key is to start small and progressively increase your distance or speed over time. Whilst there is no expense involved, some people may find jogging hard on their joints, so it may be best to try running on softer surfaces such as a grass or try an alternative option. A treadmill in a gym may also be more tolerable for any niggling joints that we might have.
If you are looking to help relax and relieve stress, yoga is a popular way to exercise. It is not commonly considered a “weight loss” exercise modality but you can practice yoga anywhere! If you are finding it difficult to find time to exercise, there are more beneficial fitness and weight loss modalities to consider.
People may or may not have heard of Tai Chi before, but Tai Chi is a fantastic way to promote social engagement whilst completing gentle exercise. Generally speaking, Tai Chi is a Chinese Martial Arts based activity in a slower paced environment. It may not be thought of as a specific fitness or weight maintenance exercise regime but it does offer a calming environment whereby you can undertake gentle movements and exercise in a social setting.
The Winner – Age Strong Classes (of course!)
Here at myPhysioSA, we have a specialised, private rehabilitation gym that is away from prying eyes. Everyone has their own individualised program based on their wants, needs and conditions, and it is a social space for like-minded people to improve at their own pace. Our gym has all the equipment required to suit your needs. Your treating Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist will design and show you through your targeted fitness and rehab program to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Let us help you Age Strong!
Written by Jack Elsworthy, Exercise Physiologist at our Payneham and The International Spine Centre clinics in Adelaide.