Tagged as: personal trainer

The Best Exercises for Seniors

At Rep 1 Fitness we’ve seen our older adult clients achieve amazing health and fitness results. Perhaps the word ‘amazing’ is downplaying their achievements and we should say ‘life changing’!  

Our senior clients can be seen working on single leg balance drills, learning to lift weights or even venturing into weekend cycling races. No matter what your level of fitness is, it’s without a doubt that exercise can positively impact one’s health.  Being physically active can improve your quality of life, mental and physical well-being and can even lead to living longer.  Participating in a safe fitness program contributes to well-being at every age but is essential for older adults.  The best exercise for seniors combines 4 pillars of fitness; strength, cardiovascular, mobility and balance. 

Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart disease and can even slow cognitive decline.  It can help control blood pressure, cholesterol, increase circulation and maintain a healthy body weight.  Also some studies reveal that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of some diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s up to a whopping 50%!  A smart and safe exercise program can help strengthen your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones helping fight against falls and osteoporosis.  

Best of all, exercise can help you stay strong, agile and energetic so you can continue the activities that bring you the most the joy in life! 

There is no ‘one best exercise’ but an exercise program that combines strength, cardiovascular and flexibility work is the most beneficial for seniors.  Try and find an exercise routine that not only includes those but one that you enjoy the most! This way exercising will be fun and you’ll be more likely to stick to the program long term. 

What if I’m a Total Beginner?

 If you’re new to fitness or haven’t been active in a while fear not! It’s never too late to start and reap the benefits of exercise.  First and foremost, before you begin any new exercise make sure you speak to your doctor.  Ensure any existing health conditions or medications are taken into account.  Ensure you start slowly and gradually build up.  If you have no idea where to start consider working with an experienced personal trainer. They have the knowledge and abilities to work safely with all age groups.  

If you’re new to fitness start with walking. Walking is one of the best exercises for seniors. You can start with 10-15 minutes several times a week. Work your way up to being able to walk comfortably for 30 minutes. This is a great cardiovascular foundation to have.  From there you can build upon your foundation! 

Starting a Fitness Program

The good thing is that greater health and fitness can be achieved by exercising just 30 minutes most days of the week. Let’s take a closer look at what your fitness program should like in detail below:

“Older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity…” recommends the World Health Organization.

Moderate intensity exercise includes walking, swimming and even mowing the lawn. Moderate exercise should feel somewhat hard. Physical clues will be breaking a light sweat after 10 minutes, breathing quickens but you can still hold a normal conversation. 

Vigorous intensity exercise should feel very challenging. Your breathing would be rapid, you’d break a sweat after only a few minutes of exercise and you cannot carry a conversation comfortably. 

If you’re new to vigorous exercise be careful not to overexert yourself.  If you experience any pain, feel faint or dizzy be sure to stop and rest. Then gradually build up next time.  Again, working with a certified personal trainer can be very helpful as they know how to prescribe exercise intensity for your personal level. 

The Best Exercise for Seniors:

Strength Training

From there we suggest adding in a strength training regime.  Resistance training (strength training) is another best form of exercise for seniors as it helps maintain and improve your muscular strength and endurance.  This leads to better posture, stronger bones and even contributes to your quality of life! 

As we age our bodies naturally lose muscle mass.  Humans lose 3% – 5% of muscle mass every decade after the age of 30.  This can even speed up around the age of 65 if a person remains inactive.  It is crucial to stay active and strength train as you age to help slow this process down.  Sarcopenia (muscle loss with age) can come with symptoms like loss of stamina, muscle atrophy (muscle shrinking) and weakness.  With regular resistance training woman can expect to gain 0.5-1 lbs of muscle per month and men 1-2 lbs of muscle every month. These numbers can vary greatly depending on genetics, hormone levels, age, quality of sleep and diet.  Nonetheless – we can ensure you will see and feel a difference even in the first month of regular strength training!

Daily tasks like climbing stairs and carrying groceries for example all require muscular strength. With stronger muscles you can expect to do these things with ease and confidence. 

How Much and How Often?

We suggest strength training a minimum of two days per week.  Strength training includes exercises using free weights, resistance bands, weighted balls, cables and even your own bodyweight. Again, make sure you start gradually with a weight you can safely lift for 10-15 reps.   Movements that strengthen all the major muscle groups like squats, lunges, modified push ups and rows are the best exercises for seniors.  

Below are just some of our amazing older adults at Rep 1 Fitness showing us some of the best exercises for seniors:

  1. The Wall Push Up – this is a great place to start building your upper body strength. If you haven’t done a push up in a while start with your hands on the wall to decrease the difficulty. 
  2. The Squat – This lower body exercise is excellent for building strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.  If you’re smiling and laughing like our trainee in the video it means you’re doing it right! 
  3. The Lunge – Similar to the squat, this exercise builds the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes as well as challenges balance! 

Flexibility and Mobility

Our muscles and joints lose flexibility and range of motion gradually with age.  Mobility is important for performing exercises correctly as well keeping simple daily tasks easy.  Flexibility can be improved by static stretches, holding a stretch for up to 60 seconds. A joints range of motion can be improved with dynamic stretches and specific mobility drills.  

Below is one of our favourite stretches for the hips and lower back and you can do it lying down – bonus! 

Below is one of your favourite stretches for your hamstrings. Step 1, start by lying on your back, bend one leg in towards your chest and wrap a band or strap around the bottom of your foot. Step 2, slowly begin to straighten the leg until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of the leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds. 

Step 1

Step 2

Better yet, assisted stretching therapy like the Fascial Stretch Therapy, a pain free, table-based technique can increase your flexibility.  The Fascial Stretch Therapy offered at Rep 1 can help improve flexibility and mobility, reduce muscle soreness and leave you feeling relaxed. 

Balance

The ability to balance better has to be one of the best outcomes of exercise for older adults. It is widely known that over 2 million older adults in North America fall each year resulting in injuries due to loss of balance.  The great thing about balance exercises is that they can be done almost anywhere.  Try standing and holding onto a railing, fence or sturdy chair for support, then slowly take one leg off the ground so that you’re balancing on one leg. Try and stay here for 10 seconds then take a break. Repeat 5 times on each leg. Once you feel comfortable try balancing on one leg without holding onto something. 

If you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or a complete beginner we encourage you to continue or start your fitness course no matter your age! You’ll be sure to see and feel the positive benefits of exercise on your mind and body. And who knows where your fitness venture will take you! 

 

How to start Running – for the complete beginner!

Running for the Newbie

If you’re a looking to add more cardio into your weekly fitness regime,  you’ve been persuaded by co-workers to join their annual charity run, or if you’re a complete beginner and the mere thought of running exhausts you, then this beginner’s running guide is for you!

Running is an excellent form of exercise and has plenty of health benefits such as weight loss, cardiovascular health and mental health.  Ancient humans evolved running and it is one of the most basic human movement patterns. It is also thought to be the oldest ‘sport’ dating back to the very first Olympic Games. Today there are thousands of marathons and running events held each year in North America and millions of people who participate all over the world.

Running never interested me until this year when I was seeking to revamp my regular fitness program and needed some sort of athletic challenge again. I decided to join the Rep 1 Fitness trainers and clients at their annual 5 Peaks Trail run in Golden Ears Provincial Park earlier this year.

I was never a runner or a natural long distance cardio athlete. I tried running a handful of times but stopped well before any note worthy distance. Growing up a competitive gymnast I thought with the power in my legs and a good fitness background I would be able to run no problem. Think again! Long steady-state cardio like running was never part of our conditioning program in gymnastics and I soon found out I had to lose the ‘over confidence’ and learn how to run from scratch… 

Tips for the running beginner! 

  • Start Small and Build Up

The worst thing you can do for your body never-mind your confidence is to start off trying to run too much too soon.  If you’ve never run before we recommend starting with two days per week with at least two rest days in between. Start slowly and monitor how you feel. You should be able to breath comfortably while running as if you were able to carry on a normal conversation. If you find your breathing is out of control, slow down or walk for a few minutes. The key is consistency! Consistent weekly runs will add up to longer distances, faster pace and superhero status in no time! Check out our sample program below! 

  • Posture Posture Posture! 

When you’re running think upright posture, shoulders relaxed and a slight forward lean. A slight forward tilt will place your centre of mass on the front part of your foot and avoid the heel striking first. This allows the foot and ankle to use its proper spring mechanic. Core should be strong and stable. Elbows in, arms gliding close to your sides – lets please avoid the dreaded chicken-wing-elbows-flailing-out-to-the-side technique! 

Have a personal trainer at Rep 1 look at your form and running gait! 

  • Use a Fitness Tracker 

Use a fitness tracker app (there are literally hundreds to choose from!) on your phone or invest in a smart watch to track stats such as distance, pace, heart rate and calories burned. 

Apps We Like:  

Strava App 

Map my Run App

Run Keeper App

  • Follow a Consistent Program

Below you’ll find a sample running program that gradually builds up from a 2 km run to a 1o km run.  If you’re new to exercise visit your health care provider first to get cleared for running. If you’ve never run before we suggest building up your strength, endurance and running fitness base first. This can be done with walk/runs, alternating between walking and jogging intervals for 20 minutes a couple times a week. Specific strength training in the gym can also help build your running base and prevent injuries. 

Sample 8 Week 10 Km Running Program 

Cross Training (CT) refers to exercise like swimming, elliptical trainer or strength training. Remember running is the main goal here so do not exhaust yourself with overly intense cross training, it should be moderate and no longer than an hour. Make sure to always warm up first and cool down by walking and stretching after.  After your first ‘big’ run your body will want to rest and recover for a few days, read our article on rest and recovery here.

Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday Thursday  Friday  Saturday Sunday
Rest 2 km walk/run Cross Train or Rest 2 km walk/run Rest 2.5 km walk/run 20 minute run or cross train
Rest 2.5 km walk/run  CT or Rest 3 km walk/run Rest 3 km run 25-30 min run or cross train
Rest 3.5 km run CT or Rest 4 km walk/run Rest 4.5 km run 30-35 minute run
Rest 4 km run CT or Rest 4.8 km run Rest 5 km run 35 minute run
Rest 5 km run CT or Rest 5.5 km run Rest 6 km run 35-40 minute run
Rest 5 km run CT or Rest 5.5 km run Rest 7 km run 40 minute run
Rest 5.5 km run CT or Rest 6 km run Rest 8 km run 40-45 minute run
Rest 5 km run CT or Rest 3 km run Rest Rest 10 km run!

If you begin to enjoy running like I did and decide to do a trail run like the the 5 Peaks or one for charity like the family friendly CIBC Run for the Cure make sure you know the race course. If it includes any hills for example ensure to add some hills into your training runs. 

Enough reading – let’s get running! Throw on some good running shoes, stay safe and happy running! 

Fun times with friends and co-workers at the annual 5 Peaks Trail Run!

Do I Need to Train my Core? What Exercises are Best?

Do I need to Train my Core? 

Core Exercise

Planking on a fitness ball which is unstable can help improve your core stability!

It is impossible to step into a Vancouver personal training gym without hearing a trainer talk about the core! Core exercise has been a hot topic in the health and fitness industry for many years. So which core exercises are best and why is it so important!? 

Improving your core strength will not only help you appear leaner by tightening and flattening your stomach, but vastly improve your overall fitness level. Having a strong and functional core will help prevent injuries, ease low back pain, improve posture and positively impact your athletic performance – think better golf swing or a faster 5 km run time! 

So what exactly is your core? Many people still confuse the core with the abs. The core refers to the Lumbo-Pelvic Hip Complex. Wow! Now that’s a mouthful! Let us explain… this complex refers to the muscles of the hips, lower back, the glutes, pelvic floor and most importantly: The Transversus Abdominis. This is the deepest layer of the inner abdominal muscles. It wraps around your torso like a corset. One of the main jobs of the Transverse Abdominis is to stabilize your spine.

You can think of your core (or you can call it the lumbo-pelvic hip region if you’re feeling fancy!) like a box around your torso. This box acts like the foundation for the rest of your body. Much like a foundation for a house. The core muscles work to stabilize the center of the body so that the arms and legs have a stable platform to work from. 

The abs are the superficial “six pack” muscles that lie in the front of your stomach. 

It is known fact that having a strong and functional core is more important than having bigger arm and legs muscles. So why exactly? 

Injury Prevention: 

The core plays key role in everyday tasks. Before you pick a toddler up off the floor or carry groceries in from the car your core should be engaging first to stabilize your spine. When lifting weights in the gym you should have a strong core for the same reason. Core strength here will help you lift the weights with proper form and technique. Also avoid compensation from the wrong muscles and create exceptional movement patterns. 

Improved Athletic Performance: 

Developing your core strength and stability can immensely maximize your power, speed, coordination, balance, agility and overall functional fitness.

A 2009 study from the official research journal of The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) found just that! They studied two groups of runners. One group underwent 6 weeks of core specific training, made up of 5 core exercises done 4 times a week. The other group did not strength train the core at all. The study concluded that people who underwent 6 weeks of core training considerably improved their 5000 meter run time than those who did not strength train the core. 

During an athletic feat, actively tightening your core muscles will improve the transfer of power to your extremities. Think about this next time you swing a golf club or when you hit the ski hill for the first time this winter!

Improved Posture and Back Pain:

Having poor posture and spending too much time in a seated position both can be risks factors for back pain. The core muscles work to hold your spine and pelvis in place, helping you stand and sit up straight. Also if the muscles surrounding your spine are strong, the vertebrae and discs of the spine will be better supported.  Better functional movement in daily tasks, good posture and long term pain relief are often very welcomed results of having a stronger abdominal wall. We call that a win-win! 

What Core Exercises are Best? 

So as you can see training your core is highly important and key in creating the strongest, healthiest and most athletic version of yourself! So what kind of core exercises are best? Forget mundane crunches and sit-ups! When training the core keep functional exercise in mind. Perform core specific exercises in a wide variety of standing, kneeling, half-kneeling and plank positions. The best core exercises will challenge your core stability, rotation and anti-rotation. The Cable Wood Chop exercise for rotation, the “Pallof Press” for anti-rotation and the ever famous plank for core stability are excellent choices.  Don’t forget to hold your body in one straight line when you’re planking! A personal trainer can determine which exercises are optimal for you.  They will tailor a program to help you crush those core and fitness goals! Now let’s get a sweat on!