Weekend warriors beware once you hit the golden years. Cramming in a long run or trips to the gym only on Saturday and Sunday are not the best for anyone’s health. For those individuals over age 65, regular exercise throughout the week is the recommended routine to follow. Staying active as a senior offers a number of health benefits including greater mobility, decreased joint pain and fewer illnesses. Regular fitness activity reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and types of cancer.
Before starting any physical routine, it’s important for elders to check with their doctors first. Key exercises for older adults focus on:
- Cardio. Brisk walking, tennis and swimming are all moderate-level aerobic exercises for seniors. Running, biking and hiking are more intense cardio workouts, which help raise the heart rate and build endurance. For beginners, five minutes daily may be the best place to start, gradually increasing to 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily.
- Flexibility. Many people forget the importance of warming up by stretching before cardio exercise and then cooling down with another round of light stretching. Increasing one’s flexibility through toe touching to yoga boosts overall range of motion and fluid movement.
- Strength. Fitness experts note that people over age 60 lose about 1.5 percent of their muscle mass each year. Building muscles can be as simple as lifting 5-pound weights via bicep curls and arm lifts, or even doing push-ups against the wall. Strength training also improves bone density and reflex reaction time.
- Balance. Building up steadiness on your feet and preventing falls is as simple as walking heel to toe several times a week. Leg raises and chair stands also are balance stabilizers.
Right at Home caregivers can provide supervision during exercise in case seniors feel a little uneasy doing it on their own.
What small steps can you take toward staying more active?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.