Exercise Ideas for Older Adults
Finding ways to get exercise as you get older is a smart and easy way to stay fit
and improve your health. Exercise is just as important in your older years as when
you were younger.
Research shows that an exercise routine offers a wealth of health benefits. One study
found that adults ages 75 and older who exercised lived longer than older adults who
didn't exercise. Another study discovered that older women who squeezed in resistance,
or strength, training workouts each week improved their cognitive function.
It’s also well known that regular exercise can help to boost heart health, maintain
a healthy body weight, keep joints flexible and healthy, and improve balance to reduce
Exercise does not take as much time as you may think. For general health benefits,
older adults need about 2½ hours of aerobic (walking, running, and other activities
that get the heart pumping faster) activity per week. These activities should be combined
with activities that strengthen muscles at least 2 days per week.
Joining a gym and making use of the machines, trainers, and classes is 1 way to exercise.
But you can also have fun there, meet new people, and do a variety of different activities
that keep you healthy and strong.
Easy ways to exercise
Exercise actually comes in many forms, including activities that feel more like fun
than hard work:
Dance. Sign up for a dance class with your spouse or a friend or carve out some dance
time at home.
Go bowling. Join a bowling league or make a weekly date with some of your friends. If you
have grandchildren, bring them along.
Rediscover a favorite sport. Whether you love the elegance of golf or the challenge of tennis, make time
for these leisure activities. If possible, vary your activities over the course
of each week to work different muscle groups.
Enjoy the great outdoors. When the weather cooperates, ride your bike, visit a local park for a hike,
or simply go for a walk. These are all great exercises that get you outside and
into the fresh air.
Get in the swim. Swimming is an excellent exercise choice, particularly if you have arthritis
joint pain. Join a local fitness center with a pool. Work in regular swims to
meet your cardiovascular needs without straining your joints.
Balance and strengthen count, too
To help prevent falls, you also want to practice exercises that improve your balance.
Yoga and tai chi fit the bill. They will also help you manage stress, feel more relaxed,
and improve muscle tone. Yoga or tai chi classes are widely available in many areas,
from senior centers to the Y.
Taking some time to stretch every day can also help keep your joints flexible and
keep you moving well. It’s also important to lift some light weights. Canned goods
from your cupboard are a fine substitute. You can also use a resistance band to tone
Work out while you work
Add a little “elbow grease” when doing chores and these regular activities will count
as a workout:
Remember that getting older doesn't mean slowing down. You've got to keep moving to
stay young at heart…as well as in mind, body, and spirit.