Facts for Senior Fitness

Did you know? Exercise is an important part of nearly everyone’s everyday health. This is true for older adults, too. Experts say seniors should aim to be as active as possible. If you are an older adult, you can reap the many benefits of exercise to live a longer, healthier life.

There are many benefits of exercising when you’re a senior:
• Improves your strength and this helps you stay independent.
• Improves your balance which prevents falls.
• Gives you more energy.
• Prevents or delays diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis.
• Can improve your mood and fight off depression.
• May improve cognitive function (how your brain works).

It is safe for most adults older than 65 years of age to exercise. Even patients who have chronic illnesses can exercise safely. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. In fact, many of these conditions are improved with exercise. If you are not sure if exercise is safe for you or if you are currently inactive, ask your doctor.

Path to Improved Health

There are 4 types of exercise. It’s important to include all 4 types in your exercise routine.

  1. Endurance – increases your breathing and heart rate. Improves the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. 
  2. Strength – makes your muscles stronger. Includes: lifting weights, using a resistance band, doing body-weight exercises (push ups, sit ups).
  3. Balance – helps prevent falls. 
  4. Flexibility – stretches your muscles, keeps you limber and more easily able to move. Includes: Stretching and yoga

Frequently Asked Questions:

How often should I exercise?
It is recommended that seniors age 65 and older get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) every week. That averages out to about 30 minutes on most days of the week. Or you should get 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (such as jogging) each week. You should also do strength training at least 2 days a week. Balance and flexibility can be worked on every day.

Should I warm up or cool down before or after exercise?
Warm up for 5 minutes before each exercise session. Walking slowly and then stretching are good warm-up activities. You should also cool down with more stretching for 5 minutes when you finish exercising. Cool down longer in warmer weather.

Safety tips

Check with your doctor if you’re over 50 and aren’t used to exercising before starting an exercise routine. Other reasons to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program include: dizziness or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, blood clots, an infection, sores that won’t heal, any joint swelling, recent surgery, a hernia.

If you are not already active, begin slowly. Start with exercises that you are already comfortable doing. Starting slowly makes it less likely that you will injure yourself. Starting slowly also helps prevent soreness.

Exercise is only good for you if you are feeling well. Wait to exercise until you feel better if you have a cold, the flu or another illness. If you miss exercise for more than 2 weeks, be sure to start slowly again.

Things to Consider

If your muscles or joints are sore the day after exercising, you may have done too much. Next time, exercise at a lower intensity. If the pain or discomfort persists, you should talk to your doctor. You should also talk to your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms while exercising: Chest pain or pressure, trouble breathing or excessive shortness of breath, light-headedness or dizziness, or difficulty with balance.

-Missy Brauninger, ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer + Specialist in Senior Fitness


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