Tagged as: Tips

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 Intermittent Fasting Can Fast Track your Weight Loss

How You Can Use Intermittent Fasting to Fast Track your Weight loss!

If you’ve been working out in a gym or training with a personal trainer in Vancouver lately you’ve most likely heard of intermittent fasting or maybe you’ve heard just whispers of it from fellow fitness enthusiast sea-wall runners as they wiz past! So now you’re dying to know what intermittent fasting is and why people are turning to it to accelerate their weight loss goals. 

Intermittent fasting has only recently entered the health and fitness consumer mainstream, however fasting has been in cultural practices around the globe for thousands of years. Many people believe that cycles of fasting is a more natural state for humans than the “old fashioned” 3-5 big meals a day.  Controlled fasting will reduce your overall calorie intake as well as increase fat burning hormones to facilitate weight loss. 

The idea of intermittent fasting came from the studies of Dr. Valter Longo, a highly acclaimed professor at the University of Southern California and the author of The Longevity Diet.  

While intermittent fasting is still under research, hundreds of clinical studies have shown it to be beneficial for weight loss. Due to the powerful effects it can have on your brain and body we do not expect it becoming just another fad diet either! Not only will it help shed stubborn fat but it can even slow the body’s aging process, reduce the risk of certain diseases and benefit your health and vitality in a myriad of ways.. 

If you’re trying to lose weight we always recommend reducing calories, consistent exercise and practicing healthy lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated first but if you would like to add in another step, some experts say IF could be a good “jump start” for the metabolism. 

So what is intermittent fasting? What are the best methods and how can you use intermittent fasting to fast track your weight loss? 

1) What is Intermittent Fasting?  

Intermittent Fasting, or a better term would be Time Restricted Eating is not so much a diet but rather an eating cycle. It does not focus on what specific foods to eat or not to eat but rather WHEN you should eat. IF cycles between phases of eating and fasting.

2) How Does IF Speed Up Fat Loss? 

Weight loss is the most common reason people practice intermittent fasting. By making you eat less meals throughout the day, IF automatically reduces your caloric intake. Being in a calorie deficit will lead to weight loss.  But some of the IF magic happens on a cellular and molecular level. When you’re in a fasting state, the body will adjust hormone levels to make fat cells a more readily available source of fuel.  Lessening your calories and burning fat for fuel…… we think that sounds like a recipe for long term weight loss! 

Here are some other key things that happen during intermittent fasting: 

  • Insulin Sensitivity: Refers to your cell’s ability to respond to insulin. The insulin hormone’s main role is to manage blood sugar levels. Unhealthy diets, prolonged high blood sugar and genetics can damage your insulin sensitivity. Improving your insulin sensitivity with tools like intermittent fasting can reduce the risk of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes.  We like to think of fasting as a much needed restful vacation for your hard working insulin!
  • Human Growth Hormone Increase: HGH aids largely in muscle growth and fat loss.  Cell reproduction and keeping bone, muscle tissue and fat metabolism in good balance are other benefits. 
  • Cellular Repair: Fasting can give your cells a chance to focus on repairing and removing old protein build up inside the cell. 
  • Gene Expressions: Now we’re getting science-ey! Several studies have shown that fasting and lowering calorie intake positively changes the genes that control longevity, aging and protect again disease (1).

3) How To Intermittent Fast: 

The simplest way to start is to follow Dr. Longo’s idea of Time Restricted Eating. This means eat for 12 hours then refrain for 12 hours. For example you can eat from 8 am and stop at 8 pm. Then not eat for the next 12 hours. 

There are several different other ways we’ve seen come into practice.  Since this can be a radically different way of eating than you’re used to we suggest not going to the extreme. Start off slowly, monitor how you feel and be patient. 

  • 5 by 2 Method: This involves consuming only about 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days a week and then eat regularly the other 5 days. 
  • 24 hour fast: This is where you fast for a complete 24 hours on one or two days a week. This one can be a little tough at first so we recommend starting with just one. 
  • 16 by 8 Method: This is the most popular one as most people find it the easiest to sustain. For example, skip breakfast and start eating at 1 pm and then finish eating at 9 pm. Fast for 16 hours in-between before you start eating again the next day at 1 pm. 

“By reducing your calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods.” says Chris Gunner BSc in his article on intermittent fasting

How Can I Make Fasting Easier?

Make sure to be mindful of what you eat during your eating phases, if you indulge excessively you might not see any results from IF. During the fasting phase make sure you drink plenty of water or herbal tea and keep yourself busy to fend off hunger pangs.  If you get dizzy during a fast, Dr. Jason Fung a Toronto based kidney specialist explains: “…Most likely, you’re becoming dehydrated. Preventing this requires both salt and water. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. However, the low-salt intake on fasting days may cause some dizziness. Extra sea salt in broth or mineral water often helps alleviate the dizziness.”(2)

Intermittent fasting looks like a great tool you can use to help rev metabolism, reduce belly fat, waist circumference and improve your overall health. If you’re new to this or have health concerns such as low blood pressure perhaps consult your doctor before trying IF.  If you’re keen to try intermittent fasting, a personal trainer can help keep you on track and motivate you stick to an IF method!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips: You Can Do It!

We know as you near your next race that things can get nerve-wracking. #Rep1 challenges you to find a new positive mantra that you can use to encourage yourself! (Or share yours in the comments!!)