Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Starting a Physical Activity Routine for Older Adults

To get started, pick an activity you enjoy. Begin with small, specific goals, such as “I will take a 10-minute walk three times this week.” Slowly increase the length of time and the number of days you are active.

You may benefit most from a combination of aerobic, strength, balance, and flexibility activities. Build up to 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity cardiovascular or aerobic activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Try to incorporate balance and flexibility activities into your daily workout as well. Work toward doing strength exercises on 2 or 3 days a week.

Regular aerobic activity can help you:
  • Reduce functional declines associated with aging.
  • Lose or maintain your weight by burning calories.
  • Lower your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart and lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Keep your joints moving and reduce your arthritis pain.
  • Lower your stress and boost your mood.
  • Have more energy.
  • Meet new friends by joining a class or walking group.
 Doing strengthening activities regularly may help you:
  • Keep your muscles and bones strong as you age.
  • Increase your strength and independence.
  • Reduce your need for a cane.
  • Reduce the risk of bone fractures and other injuries, or recover faster if you are injured.
  • Maintain or lose weight because muscle burns more calories than body fat.
Doing balance activities regularly may help you:
  • Stay steady on your feet.
  • Reduce the risk of a fall or injury.
Photo of women doing yoga

Doing flexibility activities regularly may help you:
  • Maintain the movement of your muscles and joints.
  • Prevent stiffness as you age.
  • Prevent injuries.
  • Lower your stress.

Doing weight-bearing activities regularly may help you:
  • Build and maintain bone mass.
  • Reduce the risk of bone fractures.
 Photo of man swimming
Many activities give you more than just one benefit. For example, doing aqua aerobics using water weights gives you aerobic and strengthening benefits. Yoga combines balance, flexibility, and strengthening benefits. You do not have to do four separate types of activities each week. Choose what you like to do and round out your activities from there. Remember, any amount of physical activity you do is better than none.