How important is fitness for older adults? A physically and mentally fit older adult is more likely to avoid common age-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Older adults are often defined as people aged 65 and up, but it is important to note that this age group encompasses a wide range of fitness and health capabilities. Fitness programs and consistent dietary plans are critical components of maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout our lives. Our exercise needs change as we age to satisfy our physical capabilities and demands.
Importance of a Fitness Program for Older Adults
Regular exercise can help older people maintain their mobility and prevent a variety of health concerns. Even if you eat a well-balanced diet and sleep well consistently, you need to incorporate exercise into it for you to achieve your fitness goals.
It is more important because you need to be more active and fit as you age, as older people tend to have weaker immune systems than before. Engaging yourself in consistent physical activities will help prevent age-related illnesses like cardiovascular ailments and diabetes, among others.
Fitness has numerous advantages regardless of age, but for active older adults, staying fit is especially important for maintaining an independent lifestyle. It benefits not only the physical but the mental aspects as well, as it also improves your cognitive function and relieves stress.
How much physical activity do older adults mandate?
Before we go further into the older adults’ fitness program, let us first discuss how much physical activity an adult requires in order to satisfy the requisite activeness and effectiveness while maintaining health.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, you should engage in at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as brisk walking or zumba. In addition, as part of your weekly physical activity, you combine different types of exercises, such as aerobic exercises today and strength training tomorrow, to keep your body in balance.
At least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, is recommended (for example, 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week).
Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, such as hiking, jogging, or running, is required. At least two days per week of muscle-strengthening activities, and three times per week of balance exercises, such as moving backwards, standing on one leg, or using a wobble board.
Sample Fitness Program for Older Adults
- Sunday – 30 minutes of walking
- Monday – 30 minutes of walking
- Tuesday – 30 minutes of aerobic activity
- Wednesday – Recovery or rest day
- Thursday – 30 minutes of low-impact exercises
- Friday – 30 minutes of walking
- Saturday – Recovery or rest day
You can set a schedule according to your preferences and availability, but make sure that you do have recovery time in between.
It is advised that older adults move more and sit less. Even little quantities of moderate activity throughout the day are beneficial to your health. Long durations of sitting are believed to slow metabolism, affecting the body’s capacity to control blood sugar, heart rate, and wear down excess weight. It is not only beneficial to your physical fitness, but it is also good for your mental health because it helps you boost your mood and reduce stress.
Best Exercises For Older Adults
The first thing you need to do is to decide what types of activities you enjoy and are comfortable with so that you can easily incorporate them into your program. Be reminded that it is critical to consult with your doctor to be able to offer programs that are practical and safe based on your medical history and current activity level.
Adults aged 65 and up require at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. In general, fit and healthy older people walk between 2,000 and 9,000 steps each day. Walking can boost your heart rate.
Walking has a plethora of benefits for the elderly. Getting out in nature, discovering interesting experiences, and spending quality time with others can all help lower anxiety and keep your mind awake and engaged.
To avoid injury, wear the most comfortable shoes you can get. You can also use a walking stick if you need more balance and flexibility, as well as to be more safe.
- Walking can help to strengthen your heart.
- It can lower your risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.
- It can also improve your immune system and digestion.
2. Water Aerobics
Water aerobic is an excellent exercise medium for older adults since it helps them maintain good health at a relaxed, functioning level. For beginners who are just starting up with water aerobics, three days per week is recommended.
It is an excellent alternative to typical gym practice. When done at least three times per week, it can result in increased flexibility, bone density, and cardiovascular function, as well as relief from joint and arthritis stiffness.
Warm water makes exercise and rehabilitation significantly less painful than cold water. Water exercise is low-impact and low-weight, allowing synovial fluid to transport nutrients to the joint surfaces while reducing the danger of damage or acute stress on the knees and joints.
Water Aerobics Exercises for Older Adults:
- Aqua jogging. Run with your knees up high, or try heel to butt kicks for one length of the pool.
- Water Walking. Swing your arms across the pool like you would when walking on land. Keep your back straight and avoid stepping on your tiptoes. To avoid leaning too much forward or to the side, tighten your abdominal muscles.
- Standing Push-Ups. Stand along the pool’s edge or gutter with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lean in against the wall with your arms bent, then push yourself back out. Slowly repeat this motion until your arms are weary.
- Flutter Kicks. The flutter kick starts at the hips and moves down to the feet. As one foot dips, the other rises in a fluttering rhythm. Kick using your hips and thighs, not your knees.
3. Chair Yoga
Chair yoga is perfect for seniors who cannot stand for long periods of time or who cannot work on a floor mat. Due to the natural effects of aging, older adults are more likely to stumble than young adults. This type of yoga allows you to perform all of the yoga positions while supported by a chair, even if you have bone and spine issues. Chair yoga applications for elderly people include loosening and extending sore muscles; lowering chronic pain; stress reduction; and improving circulation.
- Chair yoga can help you regain your balance and posture.
- It can improve your mental skills, help you control your blood pressure.
- It makes you more active and productive.
- It can increase your balance, flexibility, stability, and agility.
Chair Yoga Poses for Older Adults:
- Ujjayi Breathing. Place your hands on your waist and sit up tall at the edge of your seat. Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding through your sides and abdomen, and then slowly exhale. Repeat for ten times.
- Circles. Release and relax the hip muscles by circling your hips five times clockwise and then five times counterclockwise while seated.
- Assisted Neck Stretches. Wrap your right arm over your head till your palm reaches your left ear. Allow your head to rest on your right shoulder for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Your choice to be more physically active is one of the best things you can do for your health; your body will thank you later as you age. This is especially important for older adults, who will eventually and gradually experience aging-related health problems. Remember that doing anything to maintain an active lifestyle is healthier than doing nothing.
Because of health concerns and aging, you should always consult with your doctor about safe exercise. Inquire about any exercises or activities that you should avoid or introduce gradually. Certain medical conditions limit the types of activities that can be performed. Professional advice and recommendations will go a long way toward keeping you safer.
Rachel Miller is a certified Sport and Fitness Enthusiast who loves to write and blog about her Fitness passion for Nordic Lifting. Her goal is to spread awareness and instill in the lives of people everywhere the value of staying fit, good nutrition and proper exercise.