Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Fitness Guidelines For Seniors

 All older adults should try to do some kind of physical activity every day. Any kind of activity that gets you moving is good for you and is a good idea to keep up your fitness. The more active you can be the better. 

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If you’re over the age of 65, you should:

  • Aim to be physically active every day. Any kind of activity is better than no activity at all. The more you can manage to do the better, even if it’s only some light activity. 

  • Do activities that improve your strength, balance and flexibility. Try to do this at least twice a week. 

  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity if you are already an active, fit person. A combination of the two works well too. 

  • Try to reduce the amount of time your spend lying or sitting down. Any long periods of not moving anywhere should be broken up some kind of activity. Light activity works for this just fine.

If you have previously had a fall or are scared of having a fall, doing some exercise to improve your strength, balance, and flexibility is a smart idea. Exercises like this will make you stronger, so you can be more confident and more stable on your feet. If you don’t currently exercise, it’s also a good idea to speak to your GP first to make sure that there is nothing you should avoid doing to avoid the risk of injury. Ask about supplements that you could take to support you. You can often get free samples to try to see what suits you. 

Exercise guides for seniors often refer to different levels of activity, but if you’re very active, it can be confusing to work out what counts. 

What Counts As Light Activity?

Light activity is any kind of activity that involves moving instead of sitting or lying down. You probably do a lot of it already without even realising. To get started, aim to do more light activity every day. 

Examples of light activity include:

  • Getting up to make a drink

  • Moving around your home

  • Walking at a slow pace

  • Cleaning your house

  • Vacuuming

  • Making the bed

  • Standing up

What Counts As Moderate Aerobic Activity?

Moderate is an activity that raises your heart rate. It will make you breathe faster and feel warmer. If you’re not sure if the activity you’re doing is moderate or not is see whether you are able to talk. You should be able to talk at the same time, such as maintaining conversation, but you shouldn’t be able to sing. 

Some examples of moderate-intensity activities include:

  • Walking at a brisk pace

  • Water aerobics

  • Riding a bike

  • Dancing

  • Doubles Tennis

  • Mowing the lawn

  • Hiking

To get more moderate activity, you could take up going for walks with a friend, or a seniors exercise class. 

What Counts As Vigorous Intensity Activity?

Vigorous-intensity activity is an activity that makes you breathe fast and hard. If you are working out at this level, you shouldn’t be able to say more than a few words in one go without having to pause for breath. You shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation at the same time. 

If you can work out at this level, you can do it less often, as for most people, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity will have very similar results and health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. 

If you’re already doing moderate activities, you can increase your effort to make it vigorous. 

Examples of vigorous activities include:

  • Jogging

  • Running

  • Aerobics

  • Fast swimming

  • Riding a bike fast or uphill

  • Singles tennis

  • Football

  • Uphill hiking

  • Dancing

  • Martial arts

What Activities Strengthen Muscles?

Strength exercises are important for older people. To get the benefits, do them until you feel like you need a short rest before you can do the activity again. 

There are lots of ways to strengthen your muscles, both at home and at a gym, such as:

  • Carrying heavy shopping bags

  • Yoga

  • Pilates

  • Tai chi

  • Weight lifting

  • Resistance bands

  • Bodyweight exercise

  • Heavy gardening

You can mix in a few of these, such as going to a yoga class aimed at seniors, as well as continuing to work on your garden at home. 

You can do these kinds of activities that will strengthen the muscles on the same or on different days as you do your aerobic activity, like playing tennis. Just choose whichever option works best for you.

Don’t assume that muscle strengthening exercises are aerobic activities. Many are, but plenty aren’t, so make you’re finding time for both. 

This is a collaborative post.

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