Five essential elements of elderly exercise

Benefits of aerobic exercise

The benefits of aerobic exercise are both physical and psychological. People, young and old, who exercise regularly handle stress more effectively and don't get as fatigued. Cardio exercise also may slow the aging process.

Exercise can help prevent

  • Osteoporosis
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

Exercise can help improve

  • Self-esteem
  • Sleeping habits
  • Appetites
  • Mood

If you're an older adult, aerobic exercise won't make you an Olympic athlete, but it will help you perform daily activities such as lifting grocery bags and climbing stairs.

Five tips to keep in mind while exercising

Safety

Before beginning an exercise program, it's important to consult your physician. You should also talk to your doctor if exercise results in chest pain, dizziness, cold sweats, extreme breathlessness, or very rapid heart rate that lasts longer than five to 10 minutes after stopping activity. And remember, the old adage, "No pain, no gain," is not true. If a movement causes pain, stop!

Comfort

In order to prevent sore muscles in the lower leg, wear leg warmers or over-the-knee socks. Also, you should exercise in comfortable clothes that don't restrict movement.

Simplicity

A typical aerobics class runs about 45 minutes and includes warm-ups, aerobics, stretching, and a cool down, in that order. Warming up gently stretches your muscles and gradually increases your heart and respiratory rates. In addition to aerobic exercise, aim for two sessions per week of strength training.

Variety

There are several types of aerobic exercise, not just the bouncing and prancing around you often see on television. Walking, running, bicycling, and swimming are also considered aerobic exercise. To be effective, it should be performed for about 30 minutes at least three times each week. If you decide to walk, bicycle, or swim for exercise, it helps to find one or two friends to join you on a regular basis.

Enjoyment

Whatever you choose, be sure it's something you enjoy or you'll find it difficult to keep at it. Many people find it's easier to join an exercise class. If you join a class, try to join one with members in your own age group. Older adults often drop out of classes with both young and old members because of perceived competition.

Last reviewed: 
March 2018

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