Significant health benefits are seen in adults aged 65 years and older who participate in regular physical activity. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines recommend older adults to incorporate aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activity, and balance training for older adults at risk for falls. Try to avoid inactivity because some health benefits can occur with any amount of physical activity gain. Older adults need to evaluate their level of fitness before determining their level of effort for physical activity. Chronic conditions need to be taken into consideration since they may affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
Inactive Older Adults
Remember to start slowly! Aim for light or moderate intensity for short periods of time. Make sure to spread out the physical activity sessions throughout the week. Increase physical activity gradually over a period of weeks to months.
Talk to your doctor if you have a chronic health condition (such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes) or symptoms (such as chest pain or pressure, dizziness, or joint pain) before starting a physical activity program.
Warm-up and Cool-down
It is important to incorporate slower speed or lower intensity activities at the beginning and end of your routine to properly warm up and cool down your body. This helps to prevent injuries and reduce muscle soreness. Examples of warming-up would be to walk briskly before jogging or lift a lighter weight before completing the actual weight used during weight training. After completing the physical activity, gradually slow down or lower intensity to help the body cool down. Good news, adults can count the time spent during warm-up and cool-down towards meeting aerobic activity guidelines.
Examples of aerobic activities:
- Water aerobics
- Aerobic exercise classes
- Bicycle riding (stationary or on a path)
- Some activities of gardening, such as raking and pushing a lawn mower
- Golf (without a cart)
Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:
- Exercises using exercise bands, weight machines, hand-held weights
- Calisthenic exercises (body weight provides resistance to movement)
- Digging, lifting, and carrying as part of gardening
- Carrying groceries
- Some yoga exercises
- Some tai chi exercises
Balance Activities for Older Adults
Examples of balance exercises:
- Backward walking
- Sideways walking
- Heel walking
- Toe walking
- Standing from a sitting position
Even though flexibility does not have recommended guidelines, it is an important part of physical fitness. Flexibility plays an integral part in some types of physical activities such as dancing. Adults should perform stretching exercises to help increase flexibility. Activities that require greater flexibility is easier for adults who perform stretching exercises.
- Chapter 5: Active Older Adults (Source: DHHS)
- Chapter 6: Safe and Active (Source: DHHS)
- Physical Activity for Older Adults (Source: CDC)
- Go4Life (Source: National Institute on Aging)
- Try These Exercises (Source: Go4Life)
- Workout to Go (Source: Go4Life)
- Fit in 10 Exercise (Source: University of Arkansas Research & Extension)
- Healthy Eating and Lifestyle for the Later Years (Source: NebGuide)
- Start Walking Now (Source: American Heart Association)
The above post was retrieved from: https://food.unl.edu/physical-activity-older-adults
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