Exercises for Later Life - Progressing through fitness levels

The exercises described above take the fitness-aware senior citizen into a program in the simplest possible way. They should cause little pain or strain. But for optimal results, any program for any participant at any age should provide for progression.

A three-level program may be the perfect answer. The program is self-contained: it offers the older person a long-term alternative that need never be abandoned because it can be overloaded almost limitlessly. On the other hand, the man or woman who wants to utilize the program as a springboard to a more ambitious schedule of physical activities can use it in that way too.

The three-level program that follows is adapted from Pat Stewart's U.S. Fitness Book. It has a relatively simple level 1, a more difficult level 2, and a most challenging level 3. At each level the exerciser achieves a balanced workout, using all the muscle groups and giving primary emphasis to circulorespiratory fitness. Before starting, the older person should make sure that he or she is entering the program at the proper level. Standard walking or walk-jog tests along with others noted earlier can provide guidance in determining where to begin.

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