Exercises for Later Life - Basic principles

The principles behind a golden-age fitness program are essentially the same as those already specified for younger and mature adults. But the older person, perhaps even more than the younger one, has to move in easy stages. Even after testing and medical clearance, he should not undertake too much too fast. He will probably want to increase repetitions as his program progresses, and gradually add more difficult exercises. The main alternative, to overload by increasing intensity, might cause undue strain.

Physiologically, the older person faces a slightly different problem from the younger. He cannot reach the same high heart rates that the younger one achieves. Thus the older person has a correspondingly lower target heart rate.

The older person may be exercising just as hard as his younger counterpart. But the older person's pulse rate response will be lower. He will have reached the same percentage of his maximum as the younger person, only sooner. Those realities apply to women as well as to men. Women can achieve approximately the same maximum heart rates as men of comparable ages.

Warm-up and cool-down are as important or more so for older people as for younger. Running in place warms up the body effectively; so do easy stretching, pulling, and rotating exercises. In the main part of the workout, vigorous exercise should be alternated with periods of less strenuous activity.

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