Lastly, an exercise routine must have some motivational appeal if seniors are to adhere to it long enough to achieve the desired results. A program with incremental, achievable goals and a mechanism to measure progress is likely to encourage participation. Successful classes often use wall charts, individual records, or even computer programs to track progress. Perhaps of even greater importance is the ongoing assessment of the participant's response to exercise, including monitoring for changes in balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as any symptoms of adverse responses like pain, dyspnea, dizziness, or irregular heartbeats.
Exercise programs for older individuals must be safe as well as effective. Simple instructions by therapists can help seniors avoid injury while beginning an exercise program. Proper shoes with adequate cushioning and non stick soles are essential for most activities.
During high-intensity resistance training, older persons should be continuously monitored for heart rate, blood pressure, and any signs or symptoms of distress. Older individuals should also be cautioned to avoid performing Valsalva maneuvers during exercise periods, as this maneuver may place strain on the individual's cardiovascular system.
A decline in muscle strength can no longer be considered an inevitable consequence of the aging process. Strength training induces changes in muscle and neural control mechanisms. The nature of the training response in the elderly depends on intensity and type of training. The benefits of maintaining or improving strength in the elderly may include correction of gait disturbances and safer ambulation, prevention of falls, reduction in bone fractures, improved mobility and stamina, improved performance of activities of daily living and increased capacity for independent living. As the number of elderly persons increases in our society, it becomes more important to develop strategies for preventing these people from becoming "frail elderly."