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Benefits of Home Exercise for the Not-so-Youthful
Benefits of Home Exercise for the Not-so-Youthful

Posted on October 20, 2013 by admin There have been 0 comments

Although most Americans are aware of the fact that regular exercise is beneficial in maintaining good health and combating health problems such as cardiovascular disease and obesity, studies show that less than one half of the population engages in regular physical activity.  Even though the senior population is one of the fastest growing U.S. demographics, and despite the proven benefits of exercise for that group,  as a nation we tend to relate to physical exercise as an activity primarily for younger people.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) data for 2007 indicate that 59% of the 18 - 24 age group performed the recommended amount of exercise  during an average week.  For the 25 - 34 group this dropped to 52%, for the 35 - 44 group, a further drop to 50%, and 45 - 64 year old were at 46%.  For the 65+ group, less that 40% reported even moderate weekly physical exercise.  


Motivating Factors for Older Exercisers

People exercise frequently when they are young for a variety of reasons including school requirements and participation in organized sports, but mostly because sports and athletic games are fun for this age group. These activities allow kids to burn off youthful energy while hanging out with and meeting new friends.

But with the onset of adulthood, changing priorities and increasing responsibility, regular exercise often becomes less important.  Years pass and sometimes it's not until a beer gut begins to form or upper arms start losing their weight at the top and doubling in size underneath, do thoughts of exercise return.  Or perhaps it is a doctor's recommendation.  This reawakening to the importance and benefits of exercise might occur at an age anywhere from early thirties to the sixties, and requires re-acclimation to the exercise scene in a way that fits one's physical condition, time availability and budget.


Consistent Exercise - The Real Key to Fitness

The key to achieving fitness is to establish a regular exercise routine that can be religiously maintained. Exercise sessions should be intense enough to maintain/enhance core strength, muscle strength,  agility and cardio-vascular fitness, but not so onerous as to discourage regular exercise.


Home vs. Gym Exercise

Many options are now available for the more mature physical fitness seeker.  There are an abundance of physical fitness salons and gyms offering the benefits of great equipment and facilities that include personal training and a variety of classes for aerobics, yoga, spinning and the like.  These settings are good for those who find motivation in a gym filled with hard working fitness enthusiasts and the availibililty of a trainer to lay out an exercise program and keep you on it.   And once you start getting results, it's fun to strut your stuff in front of other gym members who know the hard work involved and can see the results you've achieved.

For some, however, a home work out is the preferred option.  A home workout for strength and flexibility training combined with home or outdoor aerobics training (walking, running or biking outdoors/ stationary bike or treadmill indoors) avoids the time and travel costs of getting to the gym and saves the cost of the gym fees.  No fancy gym wear is expected, and you can fit a home work out into convenient time slots.  Many find the convenience helps them to stay on a regular exercise schedule that might be harder to do when using a commercial gym.

Some who might consider a home workout routine are deterred by perceived equipment and space requirements.  This concern is unwarranted because some of the most effective exercise programs require little or no exercise equipment.   

Exercise Equipment for the Home Workout

For example, one of the best pieces of exercise equipment known to man is the floor! Using a carpeted surface, or an exercise mat on a hard floor, one can perform all manner of stretches, sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, push-ups, other calisthenics and yoga poses.  And for squats and deep knee bends, you don't even need a mat.  A good, age-appropriate exercise book or fitness magazine will provide many ideas.

Another excellent "home" exercise tool is the great outdoors. It's hard to beat a half hour or hour of brisk walking for a combination of aerobic fitness, stress reduction, calorie burning and sheer enjoyment of nature's beauty.  And it can be done year round (with proper layered clothing for colder climates). For more intense cardio training, outdoor running/jogging is an alternative, but for older exercisers, bicycling might be a better option as it can be aerobically intense while avoiding the high impact that is stressful to older knees and hips.

For enhanced home workouts, a few additional low-cost exercise devices can provide exceptional benefits.  Pull-up bars are available that can be easily used in a doorway and quickly removed after use.   Many feel that there is no better single device for development of overall upper body fitness and strength.  They can be used for either pull-ups or chin-ups, both of which are categorized as "compound exercises"  because they involve the movement and strengthening of more than one joint and they work out a group of muscles.

Another excellent home workout device is an exercise bench and a set of hand dumbbells.  Compact and easily stored after use, these devices allow for a wide range of upper body exercises.  Best results are achieved with a three days per week resistance program, progressing up to three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions for each exercise using weights no greater than 80% of your 1 repetition maximum. Aerobic workout days can be alternated with resistance training days.

Tips for Getting into a Successful Exercise Routine

Although the benefits of exercise are well understood, how much and what types of exercise is needed to maintain fitness is not always clear.  However,  various studies indicate that older individuals have a higher physical potential than has been believed in the past.  Before starting an exercise program, make sure that  pre-exercise screening is performed by your doctor.


- Safety is an important concern, especially for older exercisers with preexisting cardio-vascular, obstructive pulmonary, osteoporosis arthritis or metabolic conditions.  An appropriate exercise prescription should address these conditions.


- Individualized, realistic, and attainable goals should always be set.  Progress toward achievable goals is a great incentive for continuing exercise.


- A warm-up lasting 10 - 15 minutes is always recommended to avoid injury and strains.


Resistance training is known to provide clear and consistent results for all age groups, even those above 90!  And for older exercisers with stable cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, there are few contraindications to strength training. So even though pull-ups, for example, are usually associated with young athletes, there's no reason why older exercisers can't develop the capability to lift their own body weight.  This type of exercise makes you not only look good, but also feel good about yourself.

The correlation between exercise and improved health, higher self-esteem and a better quality of life for older people is unmistakable as a sedentary lifestyle is a predisposition to disability, early death and a depreciated quality of life.  So start thinking of your home as not only a place to relax, eat and sleep, but also a place to work yourself into shape no matter what your age.


Selected Products Recommended for Home Exercise

A variety of effective and low cost products are commercially available to assist you in performing the home exercises described above. The following fitness equipments are highly recommended:


Pull Up Bar - Home Pull Up Bar allows you to perform pull ups and chin ups at home using any doorway


Exercise Mat - Foam Mat enables you to exercise on any type of hard wood floor, concrete or gym floor


Resistance Band - Exercise Band is designed to strengthen, condition and firm buttocks, hips and thighs by stretching an elastic band attached between the ankles, and performing exercises that cause the band to be stretched.


Home Fitness Equipment - Strength Training Equipment is designed to improve your strength  through various band stretching exercises.


Exercise Ball - used for performing rotational abdominal exercises, upper extremity cross-body patterns and lower body dynamic and loco-motor drills


These products are representative of the various fitness equipment devices available today.

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