Exercise is important for people of all ages. For older adults, regular physical exercise is one of the most important things that you can do for your health. It helps your muscles and bones grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities and maintain your independence for longer. Luckily, being active can be fun, especially if you can socialise at the same time.
To help you keep your brain and body healthy, try these recommendations for adults aged 65 and older:
- Aim to be physically active every day, even if it’s just light activity.
- Do activities that strengthen muscles at least 2 times per week.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes a week or more of moderate-intensity activity. Spread it into sessions of 10 minutes. If you’re already active, try for 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, or a combination of both.
- Do activities to improve balance and improve balance and flexibility at least 2 times per week.
Keep in mind that the more physical activity that you do, the more the health benefits will increase. However, some physical activity is better than none at all.
Breaking Down the Best Exercises for Older Adults
What counts as light physical activity?
Light activity is moving rather than sitting or lying down. This could be something as simple as standing while talking on the phone, instead of sitting. Walking while talking will help increase your overall physical activity level even more.
Examples of light activity include:
- Getting up to make a cup of tea
- Light cleaning and dusting
- Making the bed
- Playing a game of bocce ball or billiards.
What counts as moderate intensity activity?
Moderate intensity activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.
Examples of moderate intensity activities include:
- Walking for health
- Water aerobics
- Pedalling to a travel video
- Raking, mowing, gardening
- Hiking or walking uphill.
4 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
Exercise can positively impact your physical health in many ways, as well as your emotional and mental wellbeing. It can also help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Let’s take a look at some of the life-changing benefits of exercise.
1. More exercise means more independence for seniors
According to research published by Medical News Today, people who exercise into old age are more independent and can perform everyday activities more easily. This is because regular exercise promotes an older adult’s ability to walk, bathe, cook, eat, dress, and use the restroom.
2. Exercise improves balance for older adults
In Canada, between 20% and 30% of older adults fall every year. But falls are preventable. Though no two falls are alike, and preventing falls is complex, regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23%.
3. Exercise helps seniors build muscle mass
When you don’t activate your muscles, your loss of muscle mass -and their associated functions- accelerates. Since there is an intimate relationship between skeletal muscle and bone density, if you build one, you build the other. Put another way: If you don’t use it, you lose it!
4. Exercise helps seniors build bone density
Aging, along with certain medications, can cause bones to become weak and fragile over time — a condition called osteoporosis. Exercise works on bones much like it works on muscles — it makes them stronger. When you exercise regularly, your bone adapts by building more bone and becoming denser.
The Best Exercises for Seniors
Ideally, exercise routines for older adults should incorporate a blend of strength/resistance training, aerobic exercise, and stretching/flexibility exercises. Below are some great workout options that residents at All Seniors Care Living Centres love.
Note – Before you launch into an exercise regimen, it’s important to check with a physician to ensure you’re healthy enough for exercise, and to see which exercises are ideal for your current fitness level.
Chair yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that improves muscle strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility, all of which are crucial health aspects for seniors. As a bonus, chair yoga has been shown to improve mental health in older adults.
Great chair yoga exercises for seniors include:
- Overhead stretch
- Seated cat and cow stretches
- Seated mountain pose
- Seated twist.
Pilates for Older Adults
Pilates offers an effective workout while being gentle on joints. It focuses on mobilizing the spine and building a strong core to improve balance and stability. Many of the exercises are performed in sitting or reclining positions.
- Chest expansion
- Modified plank.
Resistance Band Workout
Age-related changes in muscle structure and function are a fact of life. Luckily, adding resistance training to your work-out builds muscle mass, which is proven to prevent frailty and improve mobility and independence.
For seniors with balance challenges, be careful when bending over to manipulate the band – ask for professional help to determine which exercises are safe for you.
Resistance band workouts for seniors include:
- Leg press
- Lateral raise
- Bicep curl
- Band pull apart.
Walking for Health
Walking is an accessible and effective cardio exercise that gets your blood flowing, strengthen your legs and arms, and even stretches your lower limbs. While distance and step goals differ from person to person, doctors recommend that seniors age 65 and older aim for 2.5 hours of walking every week.
Ideas for walking exercises for seniors:
- Walk the perimeter of a familiar building
- Find an audiobook or a playlist to keep you company
- Try heel to toe walking
- Join an All Seniors Care walking group.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
Water exercises are an ideal exercise for aging adults, helping them to get moving in a way that is comfortable and functional. Read the benefits here. Additionally, water has a natural resistance, which eliminates the need for weights in strength training.
Great water aerobics exercises for seniors include:
- Aqua walking
- Flutter kicks
- Leg lifts
- Standing water push-ups
- Arm circles
Exercise With the Help Of A Supportive Community
When it comes to determining the best exercises for seniors, variety is key. More importantly, the best exercises for seniors are the ones they want to do and will do consistently. That is why, at All Seniors Care supportive living communities, a variety of physical activities are always a priority in our activity calendars.
All Seniors Care senior housing provides an accessible environment, which encourages residents to be physically active and social in a safe manner. We help motivate seniors and celebrates their achievements.
If you want to learn more about life at one senior housing options, get in touch with us today and ask about residences near you.
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.