December 1, 2020
In this newsletter . . .
How intense do
Always near the top of exercise inquiries is the following: “Should Seniors Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? Is it safe? "
you want to be?
For younger seniors who are in pretty decent shape and with no prohibitive underlying health problems, the answer is yes. But as we get older the answer is not so clear-cut.
High intensity intervals are great for overall physical conditioning and also burn off fat better than, say, aerobics such as long slow distance running.
But when it comes to senior beginners, and especially overweight senior beginners, a much smarter approach than HIIT (such as Tabata) is to ease into training with a beginners’ strength and fitness program. Then later on, high intensity intervals may come into play.
Until about age 80, I’d sneak in some Tabata maybe once every week or so. But my overall workout program was never a steady diet of HIIT. Mostly, my workouts were not that intense. Today, at 84, I maintain a routine of walking 40-minutes daily plus resistance work with bands.
People also mention the high intensity programs they see in infomercials. Those programs wouldn’t be sustainable for me personally, at least not as they are presented. Even when I was young I didn't believe in pushing myself to the very limit workout-after-workout. On the few occasions I tried going 100% at every session, I soon began to dread training.
Here are general workout guidelines that I recommend for seniors of any age:
- A balanced fitness program should include elements of a) strength training, b) cardiovascular exercise, and c) flexibility movements. Some circuit training arrangements can combine all three elements in a single workout, or, of course, they can be divided into separate segments.
- Don’t do “marathon” workouts. Generally, anything over an hour in a gym is too much. Less than an hour is usually even better, provided that it is time spent training, not standing around talking. Yes, Jack LaLanne is said to have been doing two-hour-plus workouts into his nineties. Yes, there are exceptions. He was one in a million.
- Select exercise programs that appeal to you, personally. Group exercise classes are right for some people. Others hate them.
- Circuit routines
of any intensity can be done using only your own bodyweight exercises. On the other hand, why not include free weights or resistance bands or kettlebells if they are available?
If HIIT is part of your exercise plan, be sure to ease into it. There is a training lifestyle for every taste and to meet every fitness goal.
Stay Healthy. Stay Fit.
Senior Exercise Central
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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.
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