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Exercise for Older Adults — an article on the Smart Living Network
November 14, 2010 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Exercise for Older Adults


Physical activity can be enjoyed at any age. No matter what your fitness level or experience, there is a form of exercise that is right for you. As we become older, our joints lose their flexibility and our bones are more fragile. Exercising can actually minimize the effects of aging while keeping you active and healthy. Also, longevity is one of the many benefits you will enjoy as a result of the exercise you choose. Here are some ideas to keep you moving at all ages.

50s and 60s

People in their 50s and 60s might be experiencing some form of back problems. This is common for that age group, and should be considered when exercising. The mistake made by too many people is pushing too hard and too soon. If you have not exercised a lot before, it is essential that you begin slowly. When exercising, breathing is important and should be done correctly throughout the movements. Resistance is a good thing when it is provided in the appropriate amounts. For example, spending hours working out one day will most likely lead to all kinds of unintended consequences. Instead, aim for the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day for only a couple of days a week at first. Then, build up to doing the same activities for four to five days each week. Some movements that are simple and effective are walking, bicycle riding, and swimming. Brisk walking is a favorite because it can be done with other people. Outside, indoors, or even walking in place is a great way to start your exercise program. Bicycle riding and swimming are also fun, and feature less impact on your joints. The cardio workout you receive from walking, bicycle riding, and swimming will help to improve your breathing, heart and lungs, and metabolism. Besides cardio, strength training prevents muscles from getting smaller and helps them contract. Firmer, stronger muscles are excellent for reducing stored fat and increasing your energy. Again, it is imperative that you begin slowly. Try exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges. Use a wall to support your body if needed when you first perform them, and always allow at least 24 to 48 hours for your muscles to recover in between workouts. Light weights can also be used as resistance while doing bicep curls, triceps extensions, etc.

70s and 80s

In your 70s and 80s, your exercise will depend on your fitness level. Walking and bicycle riding are still good choices and can be done at your own pace. Stretching is very important for all ages and is always done before and after exercising. Basic stretches include extending your arms over your head, rotating your neck slowly, and moving your arms to your sides. Preventing arthritis is a top concern, so you can do stretching exercises with your hands as well. Slowly open and close them, holding the position before releasing. Moving your wrists around is another way to delay the onset of arthritis, along with stretching your legs.

90s and Beyond

The key ingredient to exercise is motion. It is essential that you move as much as possible at any age in order to avoid atrophy or other sedentary conditions. People in their 90s can still do a lot of the same exercises. Walking, or sitting and moving your legs, will keep your mobility. The arthritis exercises described above work extraordinarily well, and stretching is something that can be done slowly and at your leisure.

General Guidelines for All Ages

None of the movements should be accompanied by pain, so stop any movement immediately if you feel any type of discomfort. By using the stretching exercises, you will not be as prone to injuries. Split up your workout times if it is easier for you, and do shorter sessions at 10 to 15 minutes each throughout the day, instead of the full 30 minutes at one time. Consult with your physician to develop a customized exercise plan for your individual fitness needs. The aging process is natural and normal, so enjoy whichever activity you select and always be conscious of the way your body responds. Through consistent physical activity, your overall quality of life will be at its very best and you will feel much younger; proving that age really is just a number. Sources:,2933,319246,00.html

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