Senior Adult Exercises
If our physical condition permits, everyone should exercise - no matter the age. Senior too should consistently perform aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises on a daily/weekly basis.
Aerobic exercise is physical exercise that intends to improve the oxygen system. Aerobic means "with oxygen", and refers to the use of oxygen in the body's metabolic or energy-generating process. Many types of exercise are aerobic, and by definition are performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time.
Aerobic activity or "cardio" gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to biking to the store – all types of activities count. As long as you're doing them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. Even something as simple as walking is a great way to get the aerobic activity you need, as long as it's at a moderately intense pace.
Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.
How do you know if you're doing moderate or vigorous aerobic activity? On a 10-point scale, where sitting is 0 and working as hard as you can is 10, moderate-intensity aerobic activity is a 5 or 6. It will make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. You'll also notice that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.
Vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8 on this scale. Your heart rate will increase quite a bit and you'll be breathing hard enough so that you won't be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.
You can do moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a mix of the two each week. Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
Everyone's fitness level is different. This means that walking may feel like a moderately intense activity to you, but for others, it may feel vigorous. It all depends on you – the shape you're in, what you feel comfortable doing, and your health condition. What's important is that you do physical activities that are right for you and your abilities.
To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities need to be done to the point where it's hard for you to do another repetition without help. A 'repetition" is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing one sit-up. Try to do 8—12 repetitions per activity that count as 1 "set". Try to do at least 1 set of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 2 or 3 sets.
There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or the gym. The activities you choose should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). You may want to try:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (push ups, sit ups)
- Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
Information on this page has been in part provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our local community resources. Before starting any physical activity program consult your healthcare professional or physician.