Research has proven time and time again that regular exercise can greatly benefit your physical and mental health. While this fact has been working its way into common knowledge, it can still be challenging to know how much exercise you as a senior should get to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Both overexercising and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to injury. In addition, as you age, your body, along with its needs and capabilities, changes. So, what is a happy medium for older adults?
How Frequently Should Seniors Exercise?
The amount and type of exercise you do will depend on your physical fitness, capabilities, and goals. Some may exercise to lose or gain weight or improve their overall physical health, while others do so for mental health benefits.
On average, it is recommended for seniors to get about two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Seniors should also do strength training exercises two or more days a week.
How Much Exercise Is Too Much?
Overexercising typically occurs when you try to jump into a more intense fitness routine than your body is ready for, or when you exercise too frequently without giving your body the time it needs to recover between workouts. Both of these examples commonly lead to injuries and health problems. Signs you’re doing too much exercise include being fatigued, dizzy, or irritable, feelings of depression or anxiety, difficulty sleeping, lowered immune function, prolonged soreness, and more.
There are some things you can do to prevent this, such as pacing yourself with the intensity and frequency of your exercise, switching up the types of exercise you’re doing, and getting enough sleep and rest between workouts. You should at minimum take one rest day per week and make sure you have six hours between workouts.
The amount of exercise you need and can perform will change as you age and will vary from person to person. It’s important to discuss these things with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re not surpassing your limits.
What Are the Best Types of Exercise for Older Adults?
For seniors, low-impact exercises are the best option as they still provide the benefits of exercise without putting too much stress on your joints. Older adults can participate in any and all types of exercise – and they should. To get the most benefit, you want to make sure that your workout regimen includes a combination of the four main types of exercise:
- Strength training, also known as resistance training, focuses on building your muscular strength, which can boost your bone density, muscle mass, and joint health. This is typically done by lifting weights or doing body weight exercises.
- Endurance training, also known as aerobic exercise, is designed to elevate your heart rate and breathing. This type of exercise strengthens your lungs, heart, and cardiovascular system and is typically done through different forms of cardio such as jogging, walking, dancing, swimming, biking, and other physical activities.
- Flexibility, which focuses on improving your range of motion to prevent injuries from daily activities. Flexibility training is usually done by completing various stretches or taking a yoga class.
- Balance, which is focused on improving your overall strength, posture, and balancing ability in order to reduce the risk of falls. For seniors, this may look like taking a Tai Chi class, doing strength training exercises, participating in various at-home balance exercises, or perhaps taking a fitness class focused on balance improvement.
You can do these exercises on your own in a gym or take fitness classes, which typically focus on one specific type of exercise. Always do a proper warm-up and cool down before and after every time you exercise to avoid injury.
Why Is It Important for Seniors to Exercise?
Exercise has proven to be beneficial for people of all ages – and older adults are no exception. Exercise helps you to stay in good physical health, which in turn, can enhance your quality of life, help you maintain your independence, and reduce health risks. In short, physical activity is essential to healthy aging.
There are many proven benefits of exercise for seniors. Exercise can:
- Improve overall balance, which is especially important considering that older adults are prone to life-threatening falls
- Relieve chronic pain
- Mitigate the risk of chronic diseases such as certain types of cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia
- Prevent obesity
- Lower the risk of injury
- Boost cognitive function and mood
- Improve or lower the risk of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety
- Help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Better your energy levels and sleep quality
In addition, exercise can give you an environment to easily make friends and expand your social circle. Since loneliness can be a major risk factor for depression and other mental illnesses, it’s especially important to build lasting connections within your community.
If you live in a senior living community or are considering one for yourself or a loved one, look into the physical fitness amenities they offer. At Aviva Senior Living, we offer a wide range of exercise classes to help our residents stay active. With options like Healthy Spine Class, Walking Club, Balance Class, Dance Class, Yoga, and beyond, there’s something for everyone at every level of care.
If you don’t prefer group fitness classes, we offer other on-campus amenities that can help you live an active lifestyle. Residents can use our state-of-the-art fitness facility that has a full range of exercise equipment. Enjoy our heated outdoor swimming pool. Take a walk on our paved walking trails surrounded by lush greenery for a scenic breath of fresh air.
Contact us today to learn more about what your life could look like living at Aviva.