Move it or lose it
We all know it’s important to get some physical activity every day. It’s been well documented that exercise can lower the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, stroke and some cancers. But did you know that research also shows that being active can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reduce your risk of stress, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease?1 Those are very compelling reasons to lace up your shoes and get outside for a walk!
But how much exercise do seniors need to reap these benefits? According to NHS Choices, to stay healthy or improve health, adults and seniors who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, and complete strength exercises on two or more days per week that work all the major muscles.
Moderate aerobic activity includes:
- Water aerobics
- Ballroom and line dancing
- Cycling on level ground or with a few hills
Muscle-strengthening exercises include:
- Carrying or lifting
- Sit-ups and push-ups
If you have balance problems or medical issues that put you at risk of falling, it’s wise to do exercises that improve balance and coordination at least two days a week. Check out our article on age-related balance issues for more information.
Before you embark on any physical fitness program, make sure to talk to your doctor, particularly if you have a preexisting medical condition. Your doctor will want to talk to you about your limitations and any types of exercises you should avoid based on your health.
If you get the okay from your doctor, the next trick is to stay motivated! Try to vary your activities so you don’t get bored. For example, if you like to walk, choose different routes, walk with a friend, or join a walking group in your neighborhood. You could also check with your local community center or senior center to find out if they have exercise or dance classes you could attend.
Make sure you enjoy the form of exercise you choose, and that it matches your abilities so you don’t get discouraged. And remember, those 150 minutes should be above and beyond your normal daily chores like cooking, cleaning, and shopping.
If you can’t meet the 150-minute guideline, at least try to get as much exercise as you can by looking for ways to add regular movement into your day to break up long periods of sitting. That’s because sitting is now considered an independent risk factor for ill health.2 Get up and march in place during commercials, walk to a coffee shop get your morning cup of coffee, park your car farther away than you really need to, take the stairs, and make sure to get up and move for even 1 or two minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting.
We all want to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible, and moving your body is one of the best ways to keep it running smoothly. For more information on adding physical activity to your life visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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