We all know how important regular exercise is to our overall health. However, as we age, our exercise needs and abilities can change. Though many of us tend to slow down, or even stop exercising completely, it’s important to continue to get regular exercise. Benefits can include fall prevention, fighting pain and depression, maintaining muscle mass and more. Here are our favourite tips and tricks to exercising for older adults:
Stretching exercises are important for flexibility and mobility. In order to see real benefits and improve your range of movement, gentle stretching should be done 3-5 times per week. Try a couple of different stretches for each body region, and hold your stretches for 20-30 seconds. Stretching should not cause any pain, and should only be done after proper warm up. It’s important to speak to your doctor before starting any new physical activity, but gentle stretching is a great way to get started with creating the habits for better health and fitness.
Stronger muscles can help you maintain your independence and continue enjoying regular, day to day activities. You can lose anywhere from 3-8% of your muscle mass each decade, so it’s important to engage in simple strength training. Basic exercises at least twice a week, like wall push ups, chair squats, or small hand weights, can go a long way to holding off muscle loss while improving mobility and decreasing bone loss. Strength training can also help prevent falls, which is a common cause of injury in older adults.
Depending on your fitness level, older adults should be engaging in 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity, such as jogging or tennis, or 150 minutes per week of moderate activity such as walking or biking. There are many activities that can offer aerobic benefits, from dancing to swimming to lawn work such as mowing or raking. Remember that the effort involved in any of these activities has to be enough to raise your heart rate or it doesn’t count as aerobic. In general, one minute of vigorous activity is the same as 2 minutes of moderate activity.
The most important thing to consider before undertaking any exercise program is your own current fitness level and your doctor’s recommendations. Each situation is different, and people need to proceed at their own pace. You can begin slowly and work your way up to a regular fitness routine. That being said, we can’t say enough about the benefits of regular exercise. It can help slow the ageing process, combat depression, improve mobility and independence, and best of all, have you feeling and looking your best, no matter what your age!