Exercise for Seniors: Tips and Guidelines

As people age, it is common for energy levels to dwindle. Although older adults might not have the same vigor and strength as they did when they were younger, the need for activity does not diminish. In fact, walking and other physical pursuits can even help people maintain their health in some situations. Follow these recommendations for exercise for seniors to help avoid common health issues.

Minimum Exercise for Seniors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week. Working out at moderate intensity involves moving at a level that is between 3.0 and 5.9 times the intensity experienced during rest. Most people moving at this intensity would gauge their effort at a five or a six on a scale of zero to 10.

The talk test is an excellent way to determine whether you are moving at a fast enough pace. If you can carry on a conversation while performing an activity, but your exertion level prevents you from singing, you are in the zone.

The CDC also recommends that older adults engage in muscle-strengthening workouts on two or more days every week. These sessions should involve using all major muscle groups in the body, including the core, legs, arms, and shoulders.

For seniors in exceptional condition, the CDC states that 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week might be appropriate. Vigorous intensity would be movement performed at a minimum of 6.0 times what someone would experience during rest. Someone gauging this level of exertion would probably place it at seven or eight on a scale of zero to 10.

Moderate and Vigorous Intensity Options

A variety of options exist for moderate intensity exercise for seniors. Older adults might choose brisk walking, moderate bicycling, ballroom dancing, gardening, water aerobics, or playing doubles tennis. For people interested in pursuing a more strenuous workout, explore options such as jogging, running, power walking, lap swimming, aerobics, jumping rope, hiking, singles tennis, heavy yard work, and more strenuous bicycling.

Reminders and Guidelines

Anyone who has led a sedentary lifestyle should check with a physician prior to beginning a new program. A doctor will likely first perform a full physical examination to diagnose any health issues that may be present.

Warming up and cooling down are vital parts of a program to ensure adequate preparation of muscles prior to beginning the activity and helping muscles to recover after finishing the exertion. Cooling down also enables the heart rate to return to normal parameters in a controlled manner.

Drinking water is important to ensure that the body has the fluids it needs during and after exertion.

Pay attention to how you feel physically while working out. If you ever feel dizzy or short of breath, stop immediately. It is also a good idea to avoid strenuous activity outdoors when it is very warm or cold.

With caution, exercise for seniors can be a beneficial and enjoyable process that should help you maintain your health for as long as possible.