Exercises for Later Life - The exercises

The older person should follow the instructions given with each exercise. If two repetitions are called for, the exerciser should repeat only twice. The reason is that the exercises have been arranged in such a way that a warm-up, or preparation for a succeeding exercise, is built into each set or station. Thus the exercises should be performed as prescribed if they are to give optimal results.

Level 1

As much as possible, the exercises at level 1 should be performed in a continuous sequence, with only brief rests between sets. But a rest is always called for if the exerciser feels that he is straining or pushing himself too hard.

It is important to remember that the ability to go through the level 1 exercise routines in continually shorter spans of time indicates progress. But no one should overdo it, or try to set any records. The person should maintain an even pace, avoiding jerkiness. If, after a week of performing the exercises as prescribed, he or she feels that the pace is too strenuous, the pace should be slowed, or some exercises should be eliminated for the time being. Wherever possible the exerciser ought to stick with the set routines for another week, making such adjustments as are necessary.

Where a range of repetitions is indicated, gradual overloading calls for the addition of one repetition in the second week. But the senior exerciser should proceed with overloading only if he feels ready for it. After the second week, two or more repetitions can be added where allowed—again depending on the way in which he is taking to the program. Many persons will reach the highest number of repetitions on level 1 in three or four weeks.

Once at the level 1 maximum, the exerciser should continue at the same level until he or she can complete the entire series without resting between exercises. Having done that for three successive days, he can move on to level 2.

Level 2

At level 2, the person follows generally the same procedure as at level 1. Initially, he performs the minimum number of suggested repetitions. In three to five weeks he should have completed the level 2 conditioning phases and be prepared for level 3. As at the preceding level, the exerciser should move on to level 3 only when, in three consecutive sessions, he is able to perform all the repetitions of the level 2 exercises without stopping to rest between sets.

Level 3

The same general approach should govern at level 3 as at levels 1 and 2. The exerciser starts slowly and progresses gradually. When the exerciser is able to perform without strain all the prescribed repetitions of the level 3 exercises in three consecutive sessions, he is ready to face the maintenance phase. At this point, several alternatives lie open:

  1. • Go back to the exercise routines indicated earlier for mature adults and devise a completely new program.
  2. • Get into walking and jogging on a more advanced or demanding level.
  3. • Consider a program of relatively easy sports, to be dealt with in the next three chapters, and recreational activities, already covered.
  4. • Take up yoga or calisthenics.
  5. • Construct an augmented program out of the activities in levels 1, 2, and 3.

Whatever the choice, remember that muscles that aren't used deteriorate.

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