G ui di n g your wa y . . .
if you’re feeling confident, increase the resistance a little bit at a time.
WHAT ABOUT RESISTANCE AND STRENGTH TRAINING?
"Health and fitness are a lifelong project no matter what age you start at. It’s just a matter of deciding to start." WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE FOR SENIORS?
The benefits are pretty endless. First of all, it helps them become more active, and they become more functional as a result. Regular exercise also promotes an increase in healthy bone density, which is so important because we lose a lot of bone density and muscle mass as we age. And, of course, it can improve quality of life in the senior years by making people feel better about themselves.
ARE THERE MENTAL BENEFITS TO EXERCISE?
Definitely. Exercise helps seniors keep an active mind by improving brain functionality and encouraging brain fitness, which is so important in the senior years. It also helps your brain activity—the act of counting repetitions, counting sets and
8 JULY/AUGUST 2011 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | SENIOR LIVING
knowing rest time between sets all help your brain function. At the same time, learning new exercises and new machines and figuring out their movements helps improve brain patterns. And, lastly, it helps improve your concentration as you focus on the movements and your technique.
WHAT CARDIO FITNESS PROGRAM WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
One of the best ways to start is on a low-level cardio program. If you’re on a machine like the elliptical or treadmill, use the manual setting, which is always the lowest level. Start out with a minimum duration, even just 5 minutes, and then build up your duration to anywhere from 10 to 15 to 20 minutes and beyond, depending on your fitness abilities. At the same time, you can build up the intensity—
I would recommend starting with a light circuit of an all-around workout, focusing on all the body parts. Generally speaking, I would start with a set of 10-12 reps and eventually increase to 2-3 sets depending on your fitness prowess. Start with light to moderate resistance, which is recommended for all age groups—if you start easy, it’s simple to build and improve from there, and then you’ll develop that consistency. At the same time, you’ll build up those intangibles that go along with making this a part of your life, like building discipline and focus.
FOR SENIORS JUST STARTING OUT, WOULD YOU RECOMMEND SETTING UP AN APPOINTMENT WITH A PERSONAL TRAINER?
When starting out, it’s very important to build your program under the guidance of a professional to ensure you’re doing it correctly. It can be overwhelming to try to figure everything out on your own, but having a personal trainer by your side to help you figure out the machines and determine your individual level is key. Working out is a learned behavior just like anything else—having a professional help you learn how the leg extension works and how to use it correctly means that you’ll be able to get the most out of your workout going forward. A trainer can help break down the terminology into layman’s terms, which can also make it less overwhelming.
WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR SENIORS WHO MIGHT NOT BE AS MOBILE?
Swimming is a very good exercise overall, and it’s outstanding for someone with less
the skinny on health & fitness LONGTIME JCC FITNESS DIRECTOR AND TRAINER CLARENCE COOK SHARES HIS INSIGHTS ON EXERCISE AND FITNESS WITH LEHIGH VALLEY SENIORS mobility. There are many aquatics programs available at the JCC, including aqua aerobics, which is a great group exercise for seniors (for more on this, see page 3). Recumbent bicycles are also great, especially for those who might have knee problems or might have trouble standing up for long periods of time. Sitting on a bike or swimming buoyant in the water will not only give seniors the support they need but also give them confidence. A light stretching program can also be beneficial, as well as chair exercises and dumbbell workouts, which are all things you can do in your home if you can’t use a gym setting. Again, keeping the duration low is important—you can start with 15-20 minutes of combined cardio and resistance activity and build from rom there. The main thing is getting thatt blood flowing and getting the body moving. oving.
DO YOU RECOMMEND OMMEND GROUP CLASSES LIKE ZUMBA?
workout. It’s also the one thing that you can most easily control, because you can really concentrate on each step you take. Technique is the one constant in your fitness regimen—you won’t always be strong all the time, you won’t have the same flexibility, you won’t always have the same cardiovascular ability, but you CAN control your technique. That’s where trainers and professionals can really help you develop that mindset.
WHAT IS THE #1 TIP YOU HAVE FOR ACTIVE SENIORS?
Keeping hydrated is very important, especially during these hot summer months. A lot of seniors tend to forget about drinking during their workouts, which can be dangerous—your body can dehydrate very quickly, and when you are able to recognize that you’re dehydrated, that means you’re really dehydrated. You have to maintain a steady flow throughout the day, and it’s especially paramount while working out.
ANY LAST WORDS?
As you start any exercise program, you are bound to see some results—but remember that patience is an important intangible in all of this. This isn’t a month-long endeavor—it’s a lifelong project no matter what age you start at. Even if you start at age 75, it’s going to be beneficial. Many seniors think that because they haven’t done it their whole life, they can’t start now. You can start at any age, it’s just a matter of deciding to start—once you’ve made that commitment, you will be better as a result. You’ve already improved just by starting. To set up a personal training session with Clarence or to talk with him about fitness and exercise, call 610-435-3571, ext. 140, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes it’s not only about the exercise, it’s about getting out ut of the house, meeting people and feeling that camaraderie— staying active socially. lly. Group classes like aqua aerobics robics and Zumba are great because ecause they make exercise fun. At the same time, when you see someone in your peer group in the class, it makes it more comfortable. mfortable. A lot of times, seniors ors feel left out of the mix, and by having fun and being with people of similar age groups, it makes it a lot more comfortable rtable and enjoyable. The flipside, ide, though, is that it’s still important ortant to make dividually, too. time for yourself individually,
HOW IMPORTANT ANT IN TECHNIQUE?
Technique is the most ost important thing in fitness. If you’re doing your exercises correctly, you’ll get the most results while at the same time ime minimizing and preventing injury. In short, it ensures that you’re getting the most out of your
SENIOR LIVING | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | JULY/AUGUST 2011 9
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