Many theories exist that recommend different times of day as best for working out. However, as you age, there is no one specific time of day that is best. Arthritis symptoms, for example, may be more active at certain times of day. Conditions such as Alzheimer's dementia can vary throughout the day, and this can also impact the effectiveness of your exercise routine at different times of day. Understanding your specific conditions and how they can affect your ability to exercise will help you to reach your fitness goals. Always consult your doctor about the best type of exercise plan for you.
Midday Exercise for Joint Pain
Joint stiffness and pain are common in the elderly population, and this is especially true for you if you have arthritis, degenerative joint disease, fibromyalgia or gout. Because your joints are still when you are sleeping, you may feel increased stiffness and achiness upon waking. In that case, you should avoid exercise immediately upon rising or after a nap. If you still feel stiff an hour after waking, cover your body with an electric heating blanket for at least 15 minutes prior to working out to warm your joints and improve joint lubrication. You will benefit from exercising in the middle of the day or just before an afternoon nap if you are stiff or achy or have muscle tightness.
Morning Exercise for Dementia
Alzheimer's dementia is a common diagnosis in the elderly population and can affect exercise. If your loved one or client suffers from Alzheimer's dementia or any other dementia, she will likely experience "sundowners" symptoms after 4 PM. Sundowner's syndrome manifests itself with increased confusion and agitation late in the day, as well as increased risk of falling. Plan to have her work out around 10 AM. or at least two hours after rising to provide optimal results.
Aerobics Versus Resistance Training
Similar to exercise recommendations at any age, there are certain times of day that are best for particular types of exercises. Regular aerobic exercise is important for strengthening your heart. However, according to a 2007 report by the American Heart Association, cardiac events in older adults are more frequent in the morning. If you have cardiac conditions such as a history of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease or atrial fibrillation, you may want to exercise in the afternoon. Strength training, or resistance training, is best performed in the afternoon when your joints and muscles are most flexible. Work out this way if you have had a recent injury to your muscles, tendons or ligaments, such as bursitis, muscle sprain or tendonitis.
As you age, you will deal with many changes that are common in the aging population. Weakness, fatigue, achiness, slowed movement and impaired balance are some of the most common issues you may face. Ultimately, the best time to exercise for you is when you feel your best during the day. You may prefer to exercise first thing in the morning so that you can cross it off your list for the day. Or you may plan to exercise in the evening when a friend or family member can join you. Choose the time of day that you prefer to help you stick to your routine and reap the benefits of long-term exercise participation.
Melissa Sabo is an occupational therapist who started writing professional guidebooks for all Flagship Rehabilitation employees in 2009. Specializing in applied therapy and exercise for non-medical readers, she also coauthored a manual on wheelchair positioning. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy.