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How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need?

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2 older adults smiling while jogging outdoors.

Healthy living is something that everyone should aspire to, and regular physical exercise is an important piece of this puzzle. It’s a crucial part of staying healthy and taking care of yourself. Whether you live at home, in assisted living, or with your family, regular exercise is always something to prioritize. But how much physical activity do older adults need?

It’s recommended to perform at least 150 minutes of low-impact exercises a week, or 75 minutes of higher-impact exercises. These should be done alongside regular muscle-building and balance exercises. This helps provide the building blocks needed to stay healthy with age.

Why Is Physical Activity So Important?

Physical activity isn’t just about building big muscles, it’s the heartbeat of staying healthy and fit. Engaging in regular exercise is about so much more than just trying to get in shape.

When you regularly exercise, you’re helping give your body the tools you need to stay fit. It helps improve mental health due to the release of endorphins, and helps prevent all kinds of long-term problems like:

  • Chronic pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes

For older adults, regular exercise can give you the ability to remain independent and prevent falls—two game-changers for maintaining a higher quality of life.

How Much Should Seniors Exercise?

Maintaining your physical health is one of the most crucial things to prioritize with age. It makes a much larger difference than most people think. It gives a person the muscles needed to stay mobile and upright. But how much should seniors exercise?

The CDC recommends that seniors perform:

  • At least 150 minutes of low-impact exercises per week, or
  • At least 75 minutes of high-impact exercises per week

Alongside these, it’s also recommended to perform:

  • At least 2 sessions per week of muscle-strengthening exercises
  • At least 1 session per week of balance exercises

If mobility, flexibility, or chronic conditions interfere with a person’s ability to perform exercises, it’s recommended to adjust the exercises to suit your capabilities. By performing these exercises, seniors can build the muscles needed to stay healthy, which is an essential part of remaining independent.

Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors

For older adults looking for a slower paced exercise, low-impact exercises are a great place to start. These exercises are excellent for slowly building muscle strength, cardiovascular health, and overall physical abilities.

Try to pick activities that you can take slowly and at your own pace, like:

  • Walking or hiking
  • Swimming or water aerobics
  • Biking or using a stationary bike
  • Tai chi or yoga
  • Gardening or household chores

This is an excellent foundation for older adults looking to stay healthy. These exercise options are gentle but effective, ensuring you get your heart pumping without causing unnecessary strain. They can be done daily, each contributing toward your weekly goal while catering to your individual pace.

It can help to break exercise up into 30-minute segments 5 times a week. This way, you can hit the recommended 150 minutes of exercise without putting too much strain and stress on your body.

High-Impact Exercises for Seniors

High-impact exercises can be rewarding for those who can manage them. They lend a hand in
maintaining bone density and require more energy, thus, burning more calories. However, it’s essential to be careful when beginning a higher-impact exercise routine. Safety should always come first.

It can help to try:

  • Dancing
  • Jogging or running
  • High-impact aerobics
  • Stair climbing or step aerobics
  • Tennis or other racket sports
  • Heavy gardening, such as digging and shoveling

Incorporating these slowly into a slower routine can be beneficial. This way, you can monitor your body to determine whether or not you’re fully prepared for the exercises. 

If you’re new to exercise, have chronic pain or long-term health conditions, or are worried about putting yourself at risk, speak with a healthcare professional to determine whether or not you’ll be able to safely perform these exercises.

Balance Exercises for Seniors

Balance exercises are a silent boost to a person’s mobility and flexibility. These exercises are simple, slow, and don’t require any equipment (other than the occasional chair or wall.)

These aim to help slowly build the muscles needed to stay upright. Try:

  • Standing on one foot for 30 seconds at a time per leg
  • Heel-to-toe walking
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga

This doesn’t just keep you safer while navigating your home, it’s also a foundation for maintaining and enhancing other forms of physical activity. A strong core and balance are interconnected.

An older man and woman smiling and gardening outdoors together

Healthy Senior Living

Regular physical exercise should always be prioritized. It’s one of the core building blocks of healthy senior living. But equally important is to find a community that supports you in all of your endeavors like ours at Meadow View Senior Living.

In our community, we believe in supporting every one of our residents in their journey toward a healthier life. Book a tour with us today, and take the first step towars healthy senior living in a community that truly feels like home.

Written by Meadow View Senior Living

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