By Tim Chinn
For Senior Voice 

Getting in shape for getting outdoors


May 1, 2017

Senior Voice file photo

A trainer can teach you to use equipment properly and maximize the benefits of your workout efforts.

With the snow melting and the sun shining, we start thinking of being outside doing things like fishing, hiking, gardening, golfing and camping. If during the winter you have been inactive or recovering from an injury or illness, now would be the time to develop a specific exercise program for your recovery and long term health.

To be safe, you should check with your doctor before starting on an exercise program. It is also a great help if you know what exercise your doctor recommended and what movements you should not do. If you spent time with a physical therapist, start with the exercise that you were doing toward the end of your therapy. If you are considering exercising at a gym or senior center, make an appointment with a personal trainer for your first workout to ensure that you are exercising correctly and safely. A personal trainer will be able to help design a program to meet your personal fitness needs.

A certified trainer is taught exercise science, health screening and evaluation, principles and methods of training for fitness and individualized program design. For the person who isn't sure how to start exercising or feels that he or she needs help with an exercise program because of weight, age, illness, or injury, a personal trainer is the person with whom to discuss these issues. Personal trainers are skilled in working with special populations and seniors with health concerns.

Health concerns include cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, cancer, osteoporosis, low back pain, arthritis, aging and weight management.

Regular exercise of stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercise will keep your fitness intact and can improve your flexibility and strengthen your muscles. If an exercise produces pain, stop the exercise and treat the pain with ice. If the pain is extreme, immediately see your doctor. When your pain has improved, start with exercise that does not increase your pain. The days of "no pain, no gain" are long gone. You can do this by doing fewer repetitions with less weight and shortening the length of time you exercise. This approach can help you start exercising again. Anti-inflammatory medication will help but be careful that the medication is not masking the pain so completely that you may re-injure yourself.

Three aspects of training

Your fitness plan should have three parts: aerobic fitness, muscles strengthening and flexibility. Aerobic fitness gives you endurance and stamina to prevent fatigue. The types of aerobic exercise would be walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, running and dancing. The trainer can advise you how hard and how long to exercise based on your heart rate and the shape you are in.

Muscle strengthening gives you the strength to do more and do more longer. This type of exercise could be done using weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands and weight training equipment. You will want to exercise the major body parts starting out with light weights and building up to heavier weights to increase your strength.

Flexibility comes from doing stretching exercises to increase your range of motion. This will help protect you from injury and pain. This type of exercise could be stretching, yoga, tai chi and pilates.

The following is an example of how a personal trainer would advise an older client without health concerns:

Aerobic training: Consists of endurance training with a heart rate at 50 to 70 percent of heart rate reserve, determined by the personal trainer. The duration may start out at 20 minutes in several 10-minute bouts throughout the day.

Muscle strengthening: Perform one set of 8 to 10 exercises that train all the major muscle groups such as the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings, pectorals, latissimus dorsi, deltoids and abdominals. Each set should involve 12 to 15 repetitions with an exertion rating of 12 to 13 (out of 20, which is somewhat hard) and a duration of 20 to 30 minutes twice a week.

Flexibility: Static stretching movements of major joints held for 10 to 30 seconds. Done three times a week lasting 15 to 30 minutes. May also include some balance exercises.

This is just an example of a basic protocol that a personal trainer may start with and then add specific details unique for the individual older client.

Tim Chinn is a university certified personal trainer and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He works at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center.


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