No matter our age, exercise is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. For those 55-plus, exercise can improve mobility, mental health, and sleep habits. The key is to find an activity you enjoy doing so you’re staying active doing something you want to do, not have to do.
CaraVita Village, an independent living community in Montgomery, Alabama, wants to share three types of exercise that are ideal for older adults. As with any change to routine, we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional.
How Much Exercise is Needed?
Exercise is crucial regardless of what stage of life we are in. It is crucial for health, happiness, and overall well-being. According to most sources, an older adult (aged 65 and older) should get at least two and a half hours of exercise every week.
These exercises do not have to be as intense as some may think, though. Your loved one can benefit from moderate aerobic exercise, or even adding more activity to their day-to-day life. Some examples of this could include:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking farther away from your destination
- Taking an evening walk around your neighborhood
- Doing yard work (raking leaves, gardening, etc.)
The Benefits of Exercise
While exercise makes us physically healthier, it can also give us a mental boost that can make us happier by releasing a flood of endorphins to our brain. Not only does it make us happier, but it has also been linked to reducing stress levels, improving sleep, boosting memory, and improving self-confidence.
“As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age (healthline.com).”
Even if you're not exercising on a daily or weekly basis, chances are, you are still walking everywhere you go. While it’s recommended to walk as an exercise for at least 15 minutes every day, walking around the home can also help you stay active.
According to Silver Sneakers, people who increased their activity levels to 10,000 steps per day were 54% more likely to live up to 10 years longer, compared to those who stayed sedentary. Walking promotes circulation in the legs, better posture, and it trains the heart to be stronger.
We recommend taking a stroll around your block or a walk around a local park. Exercising outdoors allows one to get the benefits of exercise, as well as the benefits of nature, the sun, and fresh air. When we walk while the sun is out, we are provided with a healthy dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D has many benefits, including:
- Promoting healthy bone development
- Lowering blood pressure,
- Protecting an individual from serious injury due to a fall
While the sun has its benefits, it is always recommended that you take the necessary steps to protect your skin from prolonged exposure. Depending on the time of year, temperature, etc., aim to take a walk early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun's rays are not as harsh.
In addition to getting the physical aspect of walking, you will also enjoy the benefits of nature. Richard Louv, a journalist from San Diego and writer of the book titled “Nature Deficit Disorder,” says, “...this subject was virtually ignored by the academic world. I could find 60 studies that were good studies. Now it’s approaching and about to pass 1,000 studies, and they point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.”
Fresh air can clean out our lungs, increase our energy, and reduce the likelihood of developing a chronic disease, such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
Yoga is an ancient exercise that is low in intensity and has varying levels of mastery. You don’t have to be a yoga expert to perform most of these exercises. Over time, people who do yoga and become comfortable can begin to increase the difficulty of activities, should they choose to.
“Research into the health benefits of yoga, especially its effect on adults 50-plus, has exploded (AARP).”
Proven to increase flexibility, yoga improves strength in the muscles and improves balance. Yoga can also help improve circulation, improve respiration, and give us protection from injury. One of the best things about yoga is the fact that it is driven by the individual’s capabilities and skills, allowing yoga to move at the pace of the user.
There are many fantastic resources available that can help you get into a gentle and easy yoga routine. The below video is a great resource and can provide you with the knowledge to get started!
According to physical therapist Beth Williams, “Pilates for older adults, particularly on a Reformer (resistance-based equipment with springs and ropes connected to a sliding padded carriage) is wonderful because it is light resistance as opposed to some gym equipment, where even the lightest weight on the rack might be too much for them.”
Pilates can be a great way to get back into the habit of exercising without straining the body. Pilates focuses on the core of the body, rather than the arms and legs. This focus provides strength to the abdomen and back muscles, increasing mobility and flexibility!
While these exercises are great, it’s also necessary to maintain a healthy diet. Before performing any exercises or changing your diet, remember to speak to a healthcare professional and make gradual transitions to a healthier lifestyle. Everyone wants to be healthy, but making too many changes at one time can do more harm than good. Be careful, and stay healthy!
CaraVita Village is an independent living retirement community in Montgomery, Alabama, driven to improve the lives of those 55 and over. We host frequent events, activities, and gatherings at our resort-style community that encourage residents to get up, get out, and get moving.
There is always something exciting going on at CaraVita Village. We invite you to contact us to learn more about our community, services, and how we can improve your retirement lifestyle!
This blog was updated on June 1, 2020