Staying active is important for everyone, but it’s particularly important for seniors. Maintaining your physical health is a key aspect to maintaining independence and quality of life. Strong muscles, good balance, and stamina will help you do everyday tasks like shopping, housekeeping, gardening, enjoying time with your family, and help you to bounce back from injuries and illnesses.
The immediate health benefits of physical activity include better sleep and less anxiety. It can also help you feel better overall, improve your balance, and boost your brain health to help protect you from dementia. Another benefit is helping to stave off the onset of chronic health conditions like heart disease, adult diabetes, and depression.
Additionally, exercise outside of the home or attending group classes is a great way to meet friends and get social stimulation. Many seniors are at the unfortunate risk of isolation, which can affect all areas of their lives as well as hasten physical and mental deterioration which leads to a loss of independence and reduced quality of life.
According to the CDC, adults over the age of 65 should be getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity. This includes things like brisk walking, yoga, tai chi, gardening, or household work. Conversely, for vigorous activity like hiking, jogging, cycling, or weightlifting, only 75 minutes a week is necessary. Seniors should also be spending at least two days a week doing activity that strengthens muscles, and activities that improve balance like standing on one foot, three days a week. While 150 minutes a week may sound like a lot, when you break it up over the week, it translates to barely 20 minutes each day, or just 30 minutes five days a week. You can even divide it further over the day, such as by doing a fifteen minute walk in the morning and also in the evening.
Everyone has a different level of fitness and tolerance for activity. Don’t get caught up in what you think you should be doing and instead focus on what you can do. Any physical activity that increases your heart rate and respiration rate is good activity. The best exercise is any exercise that matches your abilities and that you want to do. By making it as easy on yourself as possible, it will help ensure that you stick with it. If you have trouble with physical activity, starting small with maybe five minutes of walking or sitting to standing exercises can help you get started, and will maybe even alleviate some issues.
Any physical activity is better than no physical activity. Cleaning your house, for example, is a physical activity that uses all parts of your body and helps to supplement your exercise. If you suffer from any health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, physical activity can improve your quality of life and even reduce the symptoms of your disease and reduce the risk of developing other conditions. Make sure to consult with your health care provider first to discuss a safe exercise program.