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It’s Spring Training… for Active Adults!

It’s Spring Training… for Active Adults!

It’s Spring Training… for Active Adults!

Are you someone who’s active all year ’round or who hibernates during the winter months? Regardless of your regimen, when spring rolls around the outdoors — along with spring fitness, outdoor exercise, sports and hobbies — beckons. And, just as professional ballplayers train for a new season, it’s important that you prepare yourself physically for increased activity. Here are a few spring workout tips to get you started.

Whether your passion is pickleball or ping pong, golf or gardening, chasing a tennis ball or chasing the grandkids, or simply power walking around the Meadowood campus, it’s a good idea to start slow on your outdoor fitness journey. And if you don’t have a favorite outdoor activity, it’s not too late to find one that suits you — and super easy with our Meadowell philosophy of for a healthy lifestyle and wide range of amenities. But be sure to check with your doctor before starting any brand-new exercise program or activity. Even those who may be in good physical condition should warm up before going full throttle on the court, the green or the grounds.

It’s wise to warm up

For those who are retired, there’s no longer a rush to exercise before work, on a lunch break, or after work. So there’s no excuse to take the time to properly warm up your muscles. That doesn’t mean starting with an intense, deep stretch. In fact, it’s important to know the difference between static and dynamic stretching, and when to use each type. 

As their names suggest, static stretching is passive; the muscles are held for a length of time in one position to generate tension, such as a shrugging your shoulders toward your ears for a count of ten. Dynamic stretching is movement that stretches muscles in an active state, such as marching in place. Dynamic stretches are recommended before your activity, while static stretches should be performed after. Try to hold static stretches for at least 6 seconds, and work your way up to 30 seconds or more. Stretching after exercise, when your muscles and joints are warm, can help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can cause muscle cramps and stiffness.

American Council on Exercise (ACE)-certified trainer and senior fitness specialist Julie Sullivan, in an article for Silver Sneakers, explains that regular stretching can ward off stiffness and joint pain, improve range of motion, boost muscle function, and avoid injury. According to an article in the International Journal of Sports Physical therapy, adults over 65 should incorporate static stretching into their senior-friendly workouts.

Cue up your cardio

We know that aerobic exercise is good for the heart and a key component for senior wellness. Here’s why: It promotes blood flow to the muscles, which in turn strengthens the heart. Adequate blood flow also helps lower blood pressure and regulate sugar levels.

A good rule of thumb is to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before any activity or physical exertion. The American Heart Association notes that cooling down after exercising is as important as warming up. After physical activity, your heart is still beating faster than normal. If you stop too quickly, you could feel sick or pass out. 

As you prep for spring fitness, you may think it’s a good idea to really get your heart racing, don’t overdo it. The table below lists target and maximum heart rates based on age:

AgeTarget HR zone 50-85%Average Maximum Heart Rate
50 years85-145 bpm170 bpm
55 years83-140 bpm165 bpm
60 years80-136 bpm160 bpm
65 years78-132 bpm155 bpm
70 years75-128 bpm150 bpm

Mix it up

The National Council on Aging advises older adults to make aerobics, strength building, flexibility, and balance all part of their daily exercise routine. Because stretching increases your flexibility, you might want to try yoga or pilates if you haven’t already. When you mix up your routine, it removes the boredom and also gives different muscles groups a much-needed rest. Yes, rest is an important component of any exercise program.

Wondering just how much exercise you need to stay fit? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for adults 65 and older are: At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, five days a week) of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking. Or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or running. Plus at least two days a week of activities that build muscle.

Strengthening your muscles doesn’t mean you have to lift weights in the gym. Exercises using your own body weight or resistance bands can do the trick. If you’re having anxiety-filled flashbacks of sit-ups, pushups and pullups from gym class, relax. Your body will still reap the benefit from dialed-back exercises such as the modified pushups in this routine or these resistance band exercises from Silver Sneakers. 

Balance is extremely important as we age, as it can help prevent falls that too often result in broken bones. You can improve your balance through programs such as yoga or tai chi. You also can improve your balance by standing on one foot when you brush your teeth. Be sure to have a counter or sturdy object nearby to hold onto if needed. 

Bone and joint health is a major concern for older adults. Nearly half of all adults over 65 have arthritis or another rheumatic condition. According to the National Institutes of Health, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common age-related joint disease, affecting more than 80% of people older than 55. And according to CDC data for 2017–2018, 27.1% of females age 65 and older have osteoporosis. Regular exercise can stave off the pain and stiffness associated with these conditions.

Exercise is a great mood booster. The levels of chemicals in your brain, including serotonin and endorphins, change when you exercise. Exercise also gives you more energy and can help you sleep better.

The best advice when exercising is to listen to your own body. As you spring into spring fitness, play it safe. When it comes to active aging, a little challenge is good, but if you feel you may be overdoing it, you probably are. See you in the great outdoors!