- Aging & Longevity
Exercise For Seniors
Exercise For Seniors
A few months ago my aging parents (finally!) decided to start taking care of themselves. Now that they're both over 60, they decided to start eating healthier after watching a couple of health-oriented documentaries like "Forks Over Knives" and "Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead."
Since I love my parents and want them to live forever in perfect health (don't we all?), I've been trying to convince them for nearly 2 decades to eat healthier and begin a regular exercise program. They weren't exactly in love with the idea so I never made much progress, although I did manage to get them to start buying organic produce instead of conventionally grown produce.
But after a recent doctor's visit--suddenly my parents wanted to change things. They studied up on diet and nutrition, cut out nearly all of the junk food they were eating, and started eating much more healthy meals. They also cut down on snacks and eliminated beverages like coffee, sugar-filled orange juice, and sodas.
After a few months of focusing on their diets, my dad had lost an amazing 55 pounds and my mother had lost nearly 30 pounds. They hadn't really been doing any regular exercise, but they had been doing weekly yard work like raking leaves, cleaning gutters, chopping firewood, shoveling snow, etc. to stay active.
Once they saw that they were getting results and decided that they wanted to include an exercise program into their routine, they asked me for help. Since I have a background in personal fitness and am 80% of the way to my personal trainer certification and have several certified personal trainer friends, they thought I would be able to help them get started with an exercise program.
Exercise Over 50 is Different
Little did they know what they were asking me, though! I'd spent over 2 decades learning everything I could about how to get 20-30 year olds into the best shape of their lives, but I hadn't really ever considered exercise for people 50 and over as a separate challenge.
I talked to my personal trainer friends as well as a well-known body-builder who's 66 years old and still winning natural body building competitions. I asked them all what the best steps were for people who had never really had an exercise routine before, were seniors over 60 years old, and needed to get into shape.
I made it clear that they needed to start slow and have simple, straight-forward exercises that had low-impact on their joints (especially since arthritis runs on my mother's side of the family). I got lots of different advice from all of the other fitness experts I knew, but it all sounded quite generic and gave me the impression that they didn't really have any more expertise for that age group than I did. I was embarrassed to admit to my parents that I was "working on it" instead of having answers for them to get started with.
Luckily, a few weeks later I got a Skype call from a health and wellness coach friend that changed everything.
Finally Some Help
So I'd been struggling with how to start my parents with an exercise program suited to their needs as seniors when I got a Skype call from my Spanish friend Teresa.
Teresa has spent over a decade focusing on building a health and wellness coaching center in northern Spain to help seniors regain their health through diet, nutrition, exercise, meditation, and cleansing. Although she'd started small, over the years she'd become quite a well-known expert and her wellness center was doing very well.
After catching up, I brought up the subject of my embarrassment being unable to help my parents with an exercise plan specific to their needs as seniors over 60 and she laughed and said she knew just the thing.
She thought it was hilarious that I was so troubled and I asked her why my problem was so amusing to her (I was getting a bit irritated, I admit).
"Because, you silly!" she laughed, "our friend Ken wrote THE book on that subject. He even sent everyone he knows an email about it. Did you ever read it?"
I had to admit that I'd forgotten all about Ken and his latest book. Ken was a guy I'd met in North Carolina at a fitness convention and although we'd hit it off, I hadn't really kept in contact with him very much other than via Facebook.
I remembered getting a few emails from him about his new book, but frankly I'd been too busy at the time and I remembered thinking it was about something I wasn't interested in.
After googling his name, I found his book on Amazon and wouldn't you know it! It was the exact book I needed. Feeling guilty for ignoring him, I bought a copy of the ebook and then picked up a copy of the paperback as well. I read the ebook immediately on my Kindle and boy was my face red.
The Simple Solution
The real surprise to me was that after reading his short, to-the-point science-based book on exercise for seniors, I'd actually learned a few things that got me excited about trying some of the exercises myself.
There was a great overview of the different styles of yoga in his book, and to be honest I'd never really known much about any style of yoga other than Hatha. On top of the new understanding I had about the different types of yoga, there was a fascinating section towards the end of the book about rebounding.
Rebounding is an exercise that I'd always thought of as some weird fad that wouldn't have any real significant health benefits beyond the fact that it got your body moving at least. I couldn't have been more wrong!
Ken's book really opened my eyes to the powers of rebounding by briefly covering the science, history with NASA, and profound physical benefits that it has on the human body. I was so blown away that I almost forgot all about my parents as I rushed to go by myself a rebounder and try it out.
About a week my rebounder arrived and I started bouncing on it like a crazy person. I had both my parents come try it out to see if they enjoyed it, and although my dad was pretty resistant at first, they both ended up loving it (and so did I!).
So I bought another copy of Ken's book and gifted it to my mom's kindle so she could read it. To my surprise, she called me two days later and told me that she'd already read the book and that my dad was halfway through. They'd ordered a rebounder, were starting to take daily walks, and had built a simple exercise program based on the template included in the book.
I was thrilled to have been able to help my parents with their fitness goals, and you can bet I thanked both Theresa and Ken for pointing me in the right direction.
It's been about 6 months since we all started taking advantage of the information in Ken's book and my dad has lost another 35 pounds and is in nearly perfect health. He's had 3 doctor's visits in a row where his numbers got better and better to the point where his doctor sees him as an example patient of "what to do right." My mom has also lost another 20 pounds, has gotten off of her prescription medications, and her joints are now healthy with no hint of arthritis.
(NOTE: my mom swears that a book called along with Ken's book "Transdermal Magnesium Therapy" was responsible for the improvement of her joint health. She made me include that here because it helped her so much.) "Exercise For Seniors"
On top of all that, I'd actually improved my own health from some of the tips in Ken's book and I have to admit that I'm a rebounding nut now. Although I love calisthenics as my primary exercise (calisthenics are also covered in Ken's book), adding in rebounding and yoga as per Ken's book has really helped me improve my cardiovascular health, joint health, overall fitness level, endurance, and helped me lower my stress quite a bit.
I told Ken that he needs to make a book for younger people with the same information in it, but he said that's what people like me are there for. So I decided to write this article to let people know that just because his book is written for seniors doesn't mean it isn't full of great stuff for people my age (36) too.