Walking or jogging requires you to hold up your body weight.
Staying active through age helps maintain your physical capabilities and slow muscular and bone deterioration that comes with getting older. Weight-bearing exercises, which force you to hold up your own body weight against the resistance of gravity, are more effective at developing muscle and bone strength. Seniors can safely incorporate both weight-bearing aerobic and strength training activities into their regimen to improve physical function, balance and coordination.
Power of Weight-Bearing Exercises
When you perform weight-bearing exercises, you increase the amount of stress placed on your muscles and bones. The pull of resistance produces forces that in turn stimulate bone and muscle, which are both living tissues, to respond to that stress. As a result, your bones become stronger by building a greater number of cells and your muscles are able to produce a greater amount of force. With greater muscular strength, bone density, coordination and balance from weight-bearing training, you'll be more likely to stay independent and able to take care of yourself.
Seniors may prefer to swim, ride stationary bikes or use the rowing machine for their cardio workouts, but because you're not up on your feet and having to hold up your body weight, they're not considered weight-bearing exercises. Walking, hiking, playing tennis and climbing stairs are all considered weight-bearing exercises. If you prefer the stationary bike or rowing machine because of balance concerns, consider using a treadmill and holding onto the horizontal handle bar while you walk. Incorporate three to four 30-minute weight-bearing cardio workouts into your weekly regimen.
Strength Training Activities
Strength training will help seniors develop muscular strength, but only weight-bearing strength exercises will also effectively develop bone and improve balance. Seniors may feel more comfortable working out on weight machines as they start out training. However, as you feel comfortable, incorporate weight-bearing strength training exercises such as standing overhead press, standing biceps curls, chair squats and standing dumbbell lateral raise. Incorporate two to three strength training workouts into your weekly regimen, with a day of rest scheduled between each session. Perform one set of eight to 12 reps of each exercise.
Seniors should visit their medical professional prior to starting a new workout program to ensure it's safe to incorporate physical activity. If you have a heart condition, diabetes or low bone density, your doctor is likely to recommend certain exercises and advise you against others. Before each cardio and strength training workout, take five to 10 minutes of a low intensity cardio activity, such as walking, to warm up your muscles and increase blood flow. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons notes that with age, water consumption has a tendency to decrease. To ensure you're hydrated, consume eight, 8 oz. glasses of water every day.