For many older individuals, staying physically active and fit can seem out of reach. In reality, regardless of your age, it’s never too late to invest more time and energy into your overall health and wellness. In fact, getting active is much easier than you might believe; it only requires consistency.
If you’ve been thinking about getting back into an exercise routine, it’s motivating to see the benefits of it. Your personal reasoning could be that your doctor recommended more movement in your daily life or that you are simply trying to take hold of your health as you age. Either way, let’s discuss why you should stay active for longer and how it benefits you.
Benefits of Staying Active
For those who are not naturally athletic and inclined to be active, learning about the benefits of regular exercise can be an excellent incentive to motivate you to get back into the rhythm. Some of these may not be new to you, and others might be quite surprising. A few of the benefits of staying active for longer include:
- Improved cognition and mental health.
- Aiding weight loss and keeping it off (which can be especially helpful for those with obesity or diabetes)
- Reduced risk of developing certain diseases, like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and common cancers (bladder, lung, kidney, and more).
- Strengthened bones and muscles (which is especially important as you age)
- Making it easier for you to engage in activities you enjoy.
- Alleviating the symptoms of existing conditions/diseases
- Extending your lifespan and quality of life
As illustrated above, there are many benefits to staying active for longer, all of which improve your total quality of life so that you can do more of the things you enjoy for longer. In order to stay consistent, it is important to find an activity you do not dislike. While running may not be enjoyable to everyone, perhaps sports like; tennis, badminton, or golf will appeal. Anything that promotes physical activity and getting outdoors is beneficial.
How Much Exercise is Necessary?
Many older individuals focused on the health benefits of fitness may wonder, how much exercise should I be getting? This is an excellent question and one that will ultimately impact the effectiveness of your chosen workout program.
According to current research, adults ages 65 and above should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly. If you’re looking for a daily breakdown, that’s about 30 minutes daily for five days a week engaged in exercises like going for a brisk walk. Alternatively, you may spend 75 minutes each week engaging in vigorous-intensity activity like running.
That being said, the types of activities you do also matter. Those within this age group should dedicate at least two days of the week to muscle-building activities and three days to exercises that help them improve their balance. This is in addition to the hours you spend doing moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity exercises.
Now you understand why you should be exercising and how much time you need to be exercising for. The guidelines above leave you with much freedom regarding the exercises you pursue. If you are still looking for what exercises to incorporate into your routine, here are some great options.
Ideal Exercises for Older Adults
Exercise doesn’t have to be a part of your day that you dread or seek to avoid. In fact, there is a host of exercises out there, many of which will likely appeal to you. To make it easier for you to put together a routine that you enjoy, let’s break down the different types of exercises by the categories that we’ve listed above.
- Aerobic Exercises for Older Adults: Staying active for longer doesn’t look the same for everyone. Some might be more open to tackling vigorous aerobic activity, while others might be better suited for moderate-intensity activity. If you fall into the former category, you might wish to go for a hike, take a ride on your bike, or go for a run. If you fall into the latter category, you can go for a brisk walk, engage in water aerobics, or even engage in more strenuous yard work. Just ensure you’re not pushing yourself harder than your body can handle.
- Strength-Training Exercises for Older Adults: Keeping your muscles and bones strong is essential as you age. Some ways you can keep your strength up include lifting weights or using resistance bands, doing exercises that use your body weight (pull-ups or push-ups), or even doing things around the house that require using your muscles.
- Balance Exercises for Older Adults: Balance exercises can be enjoyable in many cases. Whether you practice balancing alone or take a yoga or tai-chi class, there are plenty of options to help you maintain your coordination for years to come.
One of the biggest concerns for older individuals is the potential for injury or worsening existing problems. The key to staying safe is ensuring you’re not doing more than you’re comfortable with. If your exercise of choice could put you in danger, look for something easier to do. Also, ensure you’re stretching before engaging in any form of exercise. Failing to do so could lead to injury. Some great stretches for older adults include shoulder, overhead side, and quad stretches.
For those dealing with back pain or osteoporosis, a higher level of caution must be used when engaging in activities. Staying active as you age often contributes positively to your overall health. However, if you’re healing from an injury, dealing with acute pain, or in a position you’re unfamiliar with, reach out to your doctor and see what you can do now. Don’t push yourself if you’re unsure whether or not you can safely exercise.
Our team at Icarus believes everyone deserves an active life free from pain. If you incorporate daily motion into your life, you will increase the resilience of your body and mind. For those with injuries who are trying to keep active, our innovative, lightweight Ascender knee brace can make it easier for you to get up, get involved, and live your life.
Interested in getting started? Contact us to learn more about our products and what we can offer you.