Physical activity plays a significant role in seniors’ health and quality of life. Daily physical exercise not only helps maintain an active life style, but effectively prevents from multiple diseases. Beyond physical level, it’s also good for seniors’ mind, mood, and memory.
However, there are myths and concerns about physical exercises. For example, some seniors doubt if physical exercise would drain their strength or put them at risk of falling down. The truth is a sedentary lifestyle is the unhealthy one. Without enough exercises, seniors may gradually lose their strength and ability to stay independent. On the contrary, regular exercise can build strength and stamina which actually reduces the risk of falling.
Some other seniors may not be clear with how much physical activity is considered as appropriate amount, or cannot find the right types of physical activity. They want to start exercising, but not sure where to begin with. Here are some tips for seniors to choose and engage in activities beneficial to their well-being.
- Spend at least 2.5 hours weekly of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as swimming or biking. 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.
- Add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week, such as lifting weights or yoga.
- Make sure you ENJOY the activity.
- Get yourself exercise companion – classes in your community, friends sharing same hobby, family members trying to be active with you, etc. Physical exercise time can be fun social time too.
- Walk as much as possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
- Spread out the activities into sessions of 10 minutes or more.
- Start slowly and listen to your body. Do not push or stretch yourself too hard.