Of all the things we do for our bodies, exercise is one of the most beneficial. It can profoundly affect your balance, mobility and strength. No matter how many candles are on your cake, exercise only gets more important for your health as you age.
Regular exercise can also be the difference between relying on others for daily activities or maintaining independence. The reality is that your workout routine may need to look a bit different than it did when you were younger. Here are the safe and beneficial exercises for older adults according to experts.Best Home Ellipticals in 2024: Tested and Reviewed: See at CNET
A common misconception among the aging population is that exercise is unsafe and should be avoided. This is untrue and works against older adults achieving and maintaining optimal health. Fitness is key to healthy aging.
An unfortunate fact is that aging increases the risk of many diseases, per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regular physical activity helps to reduce the risk of the same conditions, like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia.
Physical activity is safe for older adults when done correctly and is necessary for a healthy life. The need for exercise among the aging population is strongly supported by the CDC, physical therapists and personal trainers across the globe.
Kevin Robinson, DSc, a physical therapist and professor of orthopedics and kinesiology, shared some general guidelines for safe exercising for older adults:
The best exercises for you will depend on factors like your current fitness level and any medical conditions that require a limited or modified approach. It's never too late to begin a good exercise program.
The CDC recommends the following weekly physical activity for adults aged 65 and older:
Here are some examples of what that exercise routine can look like for older adults.
The CDC defines moderate aerobic activity, also known as cardio, as a 5 or 6 on a scale of one (sitting still) to 10 (working hard). Some activities that are light cardio for one person may be moderate cardio for another.
Walking is a common form of moderate cardio, especially popular with older adults. "Walking can be a great activity," Robinson said. "But many people with arthritis cannot tolerate walking for distances. This is because the average ground reaction force going through the knee is 1.2 to 1.5 times the person's body weight. So, what seems like a minimal impact activity can be too much."
Robinson recommends water exercise for patients with arthritis in their legs or feet. "This reduces the forces through the knee by 50% to 75% as compared to walking on land," he said.
Other forms of moderate cardio include hiking, running errands or doing certain chores (like raking leaves), some types of yoga, bike riding and using an elliptical.
Erin Stimac, personal trainer and group exercise instructor, says functional movements are the foundation for maintaining independence, reducing the risk of injury and enhancing your overall quality of life. Erin recommends incorporating strength exercises that cover essential functional movements:
Some specific CDC-recommended light strength exercises that can incorporate functional movements include weight lifting, using resistance bands, working in a garden, bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or push-ups, and various yoga postures.
It is common for older adults to have issues with balance. Good balance reduces the risk of falls.
"To improve balance, you need to perform balance activities for short periods of time throughout the day, as opposed to 10 to 15 minutes once a day," said Robinson. He recommends the following balance activities, which can usually be done safely at home:
Yoga is also a common form of exercise known to improve balance, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Are there specific exercises older adults should avoid entirely? According to Stimac, the answer is generally, no.
"Contrary to common beliefs, there's no need for older adults to shy away from any specific movements," Stimac said. "The fear of injury should not deter them from engaging in strength training. Instead of focusing on limitations, we should explore what movements are suitable for each individual."
If you have a disease, condition or injury that involves physical limitations, you should always follow the guidance of your medical doctor, but you can still find ways to achieve physical fitness. It simply requires modification and guidance.
Stimac says there's no one-size-fits-all approach and that every aging person deserves a tailored program that enhances strength and ability while considering individual needs. "By embracing personalized plans and debunking myths, we empower older adults to lead active and fulfilling lives," she said.2024-01-26T16:24:52Z dg43tfdfdgfd