We know that physical activity is good for everyone, especially aging adults. It offers many benefits for both the body and the mind. The CDC has recommendations on how much physical activity aging adults should be getting each week, with some suggestions on how that time can be broken up and what activities can be done for the best results.
The CDC recommends that adults over the age of 65 should be engaging in a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. They also recommend that aging adults spend 2 days doing strength training, and that balance activities are incorporated as an addition into your routine.
There are a few different ways the CDC recommends aging adults can get their time in. One of the simplest routines is doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Another way is to do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can also mix it up and do an equivalent of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.
No matter what your aerobic schedule ends up being, do not forget to do 2 days of strength training and some balance activities each week.
It is also important to remember that some physical activity is better than none at all. You may not be able to do this much activity, especially at first, if you’re just starting or restarting your fitness journey. That’s okay! Go at your own pace and work your way up to doing a little more each week. Also, it’s always a good idea to look for activities that you find enjoyable and comfortable. For example, while lifting weights may not work well for you due to mobility issues, another activity, like rowing, will offer similar benefits and a potentially more enjoyable and less painful experience.
According to the CDC, moderate-intensity aerobic activity is described as: “It will make you breathe harder, and your heart beat faster. You’ll also notice that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.” For vigorous-intensity activity, they say, “Your heart rate will increase quite a bit, and you’ll be breathing hard. You won’t be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.” While brisk walking is used as a baseline for moderate-intensity and jogging or running are used as the baseline for vigorous-intensity, the reality is that everyone is different and everyone is at a different level when it comes to physical fitness. These descriptions can help you determine what level you are working at—for some that are just starting out after years of not engaging in as much physical activity, a brisk walking pace might end up being a vigorous-intensity activity. That’s okay!
Some common aerobic activities you can do include:
- Brisk walking
- Mowing the lawn
Strength training for aging adults isn’t about getting buff—it provides stronger muscles for better support, which lowers the risk of falls and other injuries. While balance exercises are highly recommended and should be done regularly each week, strength training also helps to improve balance by strengthening the back, abdomen, and leg muscles.
- Lifting weights
- Resistance band exercises
Falls are a serious risk for older adults, which is why balance activities are recommended by the CDC. While strength training does some of the work, balance activities will keep you on your feet—literally!
- Walking heel-to-toe
- Walking backward
- Standing from a sitting position
- Balancing on a wobble board
- Standing on one leg
Making it Fun
If you don’t find joy in standard exercise at a gym or at home, find ways to make it more enjoyable. Get a group together for regular nature walks and change up where you go each week or so. If lifting weights is boring and you don’t want to go to the gym every time, learn to kayak or find a group to go canoeing with you.
You can sneak time in to do a little exercise while you’re out and about, too. Waiting in line at the pharmacy? Stand on one leg. Realize you forgot to grab something earlier in the aisle at the grocery store? Don’t turn around—walk backward!
Contact Aging Benefits Advisory Today!
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