As more seniors have become informed of the benefits of exercise in improving the quality of their lives, more people in that age group have become involved in different types of exercise programs. In surveying the programs available and in reading about the needs of senior citizens, four key elements of a well-rounded exercise program have become evident: endurance, balance, strength and flexibility. The 50+ aerobics program that I have developed, includes these elements in every class.
In the endurance phase of the class, we do routines that increase the heart rate and breathing, in order to reap some of the well-documented benefits of aerobic exercise. We begin with a slow-and-easy warm-up routine that wakes up the muscles and gets them ready to move in a more vigorous way. This routine and all others in this section of the class are done to music that is pleasant to listen to and motivating to this age group. It includes selections from swing, light rock and roll, show tunes, folk music, country-western, classical and other old favorites. We continue with routines that are more vigorous, but low-impact, so that the possibility of injury is reduced. Class members are encouraged to reflect on how they are feeling throughout the class and adjust movements to feel a comfortable and vigorous workout. This part of the class lasts for about ½ hour.
The next part of the class -- balance -- is short but crucial. Specific exercises are practiced to help class members realize what makes up good balance. Avoidance of injury and confidence to to move in different ways and try new things is enhanced by knowledge and practice of good balance.
The third part of the class involves strength training. Weights or bands are used to work the upper body through exercises that are slow and safe but designed to increase strength. At this time, and at all times throughout the class, members are encouraged to participate, but choices are given in terms of the intensity of the exercises. Members are frequently reminded that they must listen to their own bodies, during class and after, to become aware if any of the exercises are not good for them.
The final portion of the class is floor work devoted to flexibility. Some strengthening exercises may be included, such as movements that increase the strength of the muscles of the core of the body, but the majority of the floor exercises are devoted to maintaining and possibly increasing flexibility, along with relaxation.
The entire class lasts one hour, and its goal is to provide a well-rounded, inclusive approach to exercise for those over fifty. An additional benefit is the social interaction that takes place among active seniors, providing motivation to get to class and to continue a healthy, vigorous life-syle. For more information on class times and locations in Menlo Park and Redwood City, please use Request/Comment Form.