Exercising is an important part of staying healthy as you age, whether it is towards the goal of weight loss, maintaining a healthy weight, building muscles, strengthening your heart or keeping your mood on an even keel. But the exercises that you did when you were 25 might not be suitable for you when you are 65 and older. So how should you go about exercising during your golden years?
Exercise Recommendations for Seniors Ages 65 and Over
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults who are 65+ and have no limiting health conditions should get at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity a week OR one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.
These activities don’t need to be done all in full-hour chunks, or even half hour chunks. You can divide the recommended time into 10 minute slots over the course of the week, so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the thought of all that exercise.
What Counts as Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise gets your heart pumping and your muscles moving. The purpose of aerobic exercise is to strengthen your heart and its ability to pump blood throughout the body. If you’re not breaking a sweat, even with a moderate aerobic workout, you’re not getting the full benefits of the aerobic exercise.
Good Aerobic Exercises for Seniors
Swimming is a great aerobic exercise for seniors, as it is a low-impact activity, which means your knees won’t take a pounding the way they do while running or even walking. Because your body weight is supported by water, you can reap the benefits of an aerobic workout without putting painful pressure on your joints, making it an ideal activity for seniors.
Walking is also a great activity for seniors, because you don’t need to go to a gym to do it, and it can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Walking can also be a social activity if you do it with a friend or spouse, which is an added benefit. In fact, research has shown that walking is one of the healthiest forms of exercise you can do, at any age.
What are Muscle-Strengthening Activities and why are they Important for Seniors?
Muscle-strengthening activities for seniors include lifting lights weights, using resistance bands, doing sit-ups & push-ups and yoga.
These exercises are extremely important to practice as you age. It is estimated that by the time a person is in their mid-70s, they lose about 25% of their muscle strength and tone. So strengthening your muscles is essential for healthy aging and for being able to continue the daily activities you enjoy doing.
Know Your Strengths and Limitations
Physical activities such as running, sports, Zumba etc. should only be done if you feel that you are up to the task, and if your doctor agrees. While exercise does involve an element of pushing yourself forward, once you reach your senior years you need to balance that delicately with your actual physical abilities.
It’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before embarking on an exercise plan (especially if you want to exercise to lose weight). You can also hire a private trainer – at least just for the beginning – who can lay out a fitness plan that is customized to your physical capabilities and, of course, your interests.