As concern over the rise in health issues such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease continues to grow, the importance of getting regular exercise, including both aerobic and strength-training activities, is becoming more widely recognized. While this applies to adults of all ages, when it comes to senior citizens, strength-training may be especially beneficial.
Benefits of exercise for seniors
Regular exercise can help prevent many diseases and other health problems that seem to come with age, but strength training may be especially important for seniors. It can help improve balance and endurance, and may even help prevent bone and muscle loss that often occur as we age. This can make a huge difference in preserving quality of life and allowing you to accomplish day-to-day tasks without needing assistance from others.
How much exercise do you need?
How much exercise you actually need depends on a variety of factors, such as your age and current fitness level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults over the age of 65 who are basically fit and have no limiting health conditions need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, and they should also include various strength-training exercises at least two days per week.
Keep in mind that these numbers are weekly totals, and workout sessions should be broken into smaller segments of 10 minutes or more. This is also only meant to be a guideline for the minimum workout requirements for this age group, so anyone who is able to do more will likely see even greater health benefits. Just be sure to pace yourself and always stop if you’re feeling fatigued.
What exercises should you do?
Including moderate-intensity aerobic exercises in your daily routine can be as simple as taking a brisk walk or riding a stationary bike. Strength-training exercises should focus on the shoulders, arms, chest, back, legs, hips and abdomen. This type of exercise is often done with weights (e.g., bicep curls and shoulder raises) or using your body’s own resistance (e.g., squats and leg lifts).
While many beneficial exercises can be done right at home, if you’re not use to working out or aren’t sure what types of exercise you should do, it may be helpful to join a local gym that specializes in workout programs for seniors. Signing up for a class at a local senior center is another way to go. This would be a good option for anyone who would feel more motivated to work out with a group of people.
Before you start an exercise program
It’s important to remember that even if you haven’t been physically active lately, it’s never too late to start. However, be sure to start slowly and gradually increase your workouts as your ability allows. It’s also especially important for seniors to check in with their doctors before beginning any type of exercise program. It’s also a good idea to follow up to report any aches or pains that could indicate a possible injury, and to monitor your workout progress.
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