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How Much Physical Activity Do Seniors Need?

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A group of seniors stretching their arms while exercising together in senior living.

Living a healthy lifestyle—it’s one of the easiest ways to take care of your body and stay healthy far into your senior years. However, while diet and overall habits play an important role, there’s one key aspect often overlooked: exercise.

Seniors over the age of 65 need a certain amount of exercise to maintain a healthy body. It’s recommended that seniors engage in at least 150 minutes of low-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. They should also perform balance exercises a few times a week.

Why Is Exercise So Important for Seniors?

As we age, our bodies constantly change. Over the years, muscle mass decreases, flexibility lowers, and joint strength can weaken. These changes aren’t just about appearance or your weight—they can have a direct impact on your overall quality of life.

This is why regular exercise is so important for seniors. It’s essential for overall health and safety, allowing seniors to remain independent and mobile. Age doesn’t have to mean joint pain and stiff limbs—physical exercise plays a big part in preserving a person’s quality of life.

The Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

Physical exercise is about much more than weight and appearance. For seniors, physical exercise can do wonders. It offers a wealth of benefits, such as:

  • Improved mental health and a lower risk of depression and anxiety
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Enhanced cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Better control over weight, reducing the likelihood of obesity-related conditions
  • Increased bone density, which can help prevent osteoporosis and fractures
  • Improved balance and coordination, significantly lowering the risk of falls

How Much Exercise Is Ideal for Seniors?

When it comes to exercising for seniors, balance is key. It’s important to mix different types of exercises to target various aspects of health. Try to encourage your loved one to change up their activities throughout the week so they don’t overwork muscle groups.

The CDC recommends that seniors:

  • Perform at least 150 minutes of low-to-moderate-intensity exercise per week, or
  • 75 minutes of moderate-to-high-intensity exercise per week

Alongside these, it’s recommended that seniors perform at least 2 sessions of balance or strength training per week. This way, seniors can boost the muscles needed for everyday life, reducing the risk of falls or harm.

Getting started with a routine doesn’t have to be daunting. Recommend that your loved one starts small with simple and enjoyable activities, then gradually increase the workout as their comfort and fitness level increases.

Senior-Friendly Low-Intensity Exercises

Low-intensity exercises are perfect for seniors who are just starting to exercise or have mobility issues. This incorporates different groups of exercises that are gentle on the joints and can easily be worked into a senior’s daily routine.

Encourage your loved one to try:

  • Walking: A simple yet effective way to stay active. Walking can be done anywhere and at any pace, making it accessible for most seniors.
  • Stretching: Regular stretching helps maintain flexibility and can be done even while seated.
  • Water aerobics: Exercising in water reduces the strain on joints and provides resistance for muscle strengthening.

Even though they may seem simple, these exercises can be incredible for boosting your loved one’s health.

Senior-Friendly High-Intensity Exercises

For seniors who want something a little more fast-paced, high-intensity exercises can be an ideal choice. These exercises tend to help with strength training and endurance.

A senior couple holding water bottles laughs together while exercising outdoors.

Encourage your loved one to try:

  • Dancing: Whether it’s ballroom, salsa, or even line dancing, moving to the rhythm can be a joyful way to get the heart pumping and the muscles working.
  • Cycling: Using a stationary bike can provide a great cardio workout.
  • Hiking: If your loved one enjoys nature, hiking can be an excellent way to combine high-intensity exercise with the tranquillity of the outdoors.
  • Strength training: Lifting light weights or using resistance bands can enhance muscle strength and bone density.

Remember, the goal isn’t to push too hard. Overdoing high-intensity exercises can quickly lead to pain and even a higher risk of harm. If your loved one plans to start a new exercise routine, recommend that they start small and work their way up.

Senior-Friendly Balance Exercises

Balance exercises are a simple—yet crucial—part of staying healthy. They improve stability and reduce the risk of falls, which can help your loved one stay independent and safe in their senior years. These exercises primarily aim to strengthen the core, legs, and back to help a person stay upright and stable. 

Encourage your loved one to try:

  • The heel-toe walk: Walk in a straight line, carefully placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the other and repeating.
  • Standing on one foot: Encourage your loved one to stand on one foot at a time, holding onto a sturdy chair or counter for support if needed.
  • Chair sits: Have your loved one practice sitting down and standing up from a chair without using their hands. This strengthens their legs and improves balance.
  • Side leg raises: While holding onto a chair for balance, raise one leg out to the side and lower it back down, repeating on both sides.

Even though these may seem easy, they can be incredible for boosting your loved one’s ability to stay safely independent.

Healthy Senior Living in El Paso

Staying active is key to a healthy, vibrant, and fulfilling life, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. It’s essential to find a community full of people who support you in all of your endeavors.

Whether your loved one is looking to change up their diet, try a new exercise routine, or pick up a new hobby, our team at The Legacy at Cimarron is here to help them in the journey to healthier senior living. Book a tour with us today!

Written by LifeWell

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