Staying active is an important part of taking care of your overall health and well-being as you age. Regular exercise helps seniors maintain a healthy weight, stave off disease and injury, and guard against cognitive decline. Physical activity can also serve as a protective factor for mental health and provide an opportunity to socialize.
However, exercising in your golden years often presents a number of new challenges. Declining energy levels, chronic pain or disease, mobility issues, and higher risks and consequences associated with falls can all make it difficult for seniors to maintain a regular fitness routine.
For that reason, a key part of fitness for seniors is choosing the best type of exercise for your specific abilities, goals, and preferences. Here, we’ll shed some light on how much physical activity seniors should be aiming to get, and the best exercises for elderly individuals.
How Much Exercise Do Seniors Need?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults aged 65 and older should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, every week. Alternatively, they can engage in 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running or fast-paced swimming, each week.
This equates to roughly 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days a week, which can be broken up into shorter sessions if necessary. Additionally, seniors should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities, such as resistance training or yoga, into their routine at least two days a week.
Best Exercise Activities for Seniors
Of course, there are no limits on the types of exercise that seniors can participate in, provided that their health allows them to do so. However, some forms of exercise are better suited than others to meet the needs of older adults and/or accommodate any barriers they may be dealing with. Here, we’ve listed a few common options from four different categories: aerobic exercise, flexibility and/or balance-building exercise, strength-building exercise, and exercise for individuals with limited mobility.
- Walking. Walking can be easily incorporated into most peoples’ daily routine, making it a popular exercise option for seniors. Walking has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles and bones, and help maintain a healthy weight.
- Cycling. Cycling is an excellent form of aerobic exercise for seniors because it is low-impact and easy on the joints, making it a safe option for those with arthritis or other joint conditions. It also provides cardiovascular benefits, such as improving heart health and circulation, while simultaneously boosting lower-body strength and endurance. As an added bonus, it can be done outside (on a bike) or inside (on a stationary bike machine).
Flexibility- and/or Balance-Building Exercise
- Tai Chi. Tai Chi incorporates slow, flowing movements and deep breathing. It can improve balance, flexibility, and range of motion, making it a great option for seniors who want to improve their physical health while reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Tai Chi for seniors can also help reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.
- Yoga. Like Tai Chi, yoga can improve balance, flexibility, and mobility; reduce stress; and improve mental wellbeing. Yoga has also been shown to be helpful in managing arthritis and chronic pain.
- Body weight exercises. Body weight exercises, also known as calisthenics, include moves such as squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, and more. They are an excellent form of exercise for older adults because they can be done anywhere, without the need for equipment, and can help maintain and improve strength, flexibility, and balance. Additionally, body weight exercises can be easily modified to suit individual fitness levels and abilities, making them a safe and accessible option for older adults of all fitness levels.
- Weight and resistance band training. Using weights or resistance bands to exercise is beneficial for older adults because it can help improve muscle strength and bone density, which tend to decline with age. Resistance training can also enhance joint function and flexibility, reduce the risk of falls, and improve overall physical function and quality of life in older adults.
Exercise for Individuals With Limited Mobility
- Swimming or water aerobics. Swimming is a low-impact form of aerobic exercise that can be especially beneficial for seniors with joint pain or mobility issues. It can improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and flexibility.
- Chair exercises. Chair exercises are ideal for people who have limited mobility. They are low-impact and can be done while seated, reducing the risk of falls or injury. Additionally, chair exercises can help improve flexibility, strength, and balance, which can enhance mobility, reduce pain, and improve overall quality of life for seniors.
At Seabury, we understand that age-appropriate options are critical to helping seniors stay active. Our facilities combine state-of-the-art equipment with personalized training options, making it easy for residents to find a type of exercise that works best for them.
Seabury provides peaceful living opportunities for adults ages 50 and over, including those dealing with memory loss. Our philosophy centers the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness of our Residents. Living options range from independent apartments and villas to cottages as well. Our continuum of care model is designed to make Residents’ lives as comfortable as possible. Your Life Plan Contract at Seabury also includes, should you require it in the future, a transition to assisted living, memory support, and nursing care services for the same monthly fee. Contact us today for more information!