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HomeHealth EducationExercise and Seniors - familydoctor.org

Exercise and Seniors – familydoctor.org


Path to improved well being

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

Endurance (cardio) — increases your breathing and heart rate. Improves the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Builds energy. Includes:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Climbing stairs/hills
  • Raking, mowing, gardening

Strength — makes your muscles stronger. Includes:

  • Lifting weights
  • Using a resistance band
  • Doing body-weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups)

Balance — helps prevent falls. Includes:

  • Standing on one foot
  • Walking heel-to-toe
  • Tai chi or yoga 

Flexibility — stretches your muscles, keeps you limber and more easily able to move. Includes:

How often should I exercise?

Seniors 65 and older should 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. You can work on balance and flexibility every day.

In addition, incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Examples of working more activity into your day include:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walking or biking places instead of driving
  • Walking your dog
  • Working in the yard
  • Doing light exercises while watching TV

Should I warm up or cool down before or after exercise?

Warm up for 5 minutes before you exercise. 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

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Your shoes should have good arch support, and an elevated and cushioned heel to absorb shock. Make sure the shoes are made for the type of physical activity you’ll be using them for. Shoes are specially designed for walking, running, tennis, or dancing, for example.

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.

Drink water before, during, and after you exercise, even if you don’t feel thirsty.



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