Staying active is important for individuals of all ages however, it is often said that exercising is of the utmost importance for older adults who wish to stay independent in their golden years. Exercise offers a wealth of physical benefits from increased muscle strength, balance, and flexibility to emotional benefits including enhanced mood. Yet many seniors are left with the question, “how often should I exercise?”.
Generally speaking, older adults should aim to exercise four days a week for at least 15-30 minutes. The length and intensity will depend on one’s age, abilities, and medical conditions. It is also important to keep in mind that exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous. Walking around the neighborhood or walking up and down the stairs at home is a great way to elevate heart rate without doing anything too strenuous. (Consult with your doctor or physical therapist if you have questions about your limitations.) A professional will be able to evaluate your abilities, strength, and endurance to provide you with exercises that will help manage any limitations.
Seniors who struggle with mobility or have difficulty with standing exercises due to health conditions can also continue to exercise. There are a variety of strengthening exercises that can be performed while sitting down, even in front of the television.
It is crucial that you know your limits. If pain occurs, you could be performing the exercise incorrectly or doing more than you can handle. Always stay hydrated, and don’t be afraid to take breaks if you need them.
While there are general recommendations for how often you should exercise, the answer is not the same for all older adults. The most important thing is to engage in any level of activity, especially in safe exercises that fit your body’s abilities. A great way to motivate yourself without over-doing it is to start out easy, set goals, and keep track of your fitness progress.