Regular Exercise Benefits Older Adults: Tips to Get Started

Exercise benefits older adults in a variety of ways. These tips will help seniors get started.

The start of a new year is a great time to re-evaluate habits and routines, and to make a commitment to healthy lifestyle changes that can benefit overall health and wellness. One of the most beneficial changes older adults can make is to incorporate physical activity into their day-to-day routine. Exercise benefits older adults physically and mentally and helps seniors remain independent throughout the aging process. 

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that older adults get a minimum of 150 minutes, or 2.5 hour per week, of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. For maximum benefit, combining aerobic activity with a variety of exercise types such as muscle strengthening and balance activities also helps reduce the potential for falls in older adults.

Before Beginning: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Prior to beginning an exercise program, or adding exercise to the daily routine, it’s important for the older adult to speak with his or her physician to help determine the types of exercises that will be most beneficial. These questions can help guide the conversation with the doctor:

  • Are there exercises that should be avoided? Based upon the older adult’s health history, the doctor can make recommendations about the types of exercises that will be most beneficial, as well as those that should be avoided. 
  • How do chronic health conditions impact exercise? Many older adults are managing several long-term health conditions. Older adults with diabetes may need to adjust their daily schedule, nutrition or medications when adding regular exercise. Individuals with arthritis may need to avoid specific types of exercises when joints are swollen. Understand if adjustments need to be made in order to ensure the older adult can exercise safely.
  • Is preventative care up to date? When seeking advice from the doctor about adding exercise to a weekly routine, it’s a great time to ensure all preventative care is current. If not, find out what health screenings should be scheduled. 

 Start Slow to Achieve Success

The best way to make exercise a part of a weekly routine is to start slow and to set reasonable goals based upon current fitness levels. If an older adult has been relatively sedentary recently, making a commitment to walking to the mailbox each day is a great place to begin. Starting slow reduces the risk of injury and helps set a foundation for success. Additionally, try these tips: 

  • Include a warm-up to ensure muscles and joints are ready to exercise and a cool-down to help restore pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Choose low-intensity exercises.
  • Hydrate with water before, during and after exercise.
  • Wear appropriate fitness clothing and shoes to ensure comfort and reduce the chance of injury.
  • Make exercise enjoyable by finding activities that appeal to the older adult – group fitness at the local senior center, videos on YouTube, a regular walk at the park with friends.
  • Create an exercise and physical activity plan that outlines realistic short- and long-term goals.
  • Celebrate successes along the way.
  • Don’t be discouraged by minor setbacks. Each day is a new opportunity to be active.

At Visiting Care Giving Services, our dedicated and professional Chesterfield caregiving team is here to partner with older adults to help them remain active and healthy. From providing encouragement to participate in physician-approved exercise to helping to plan and prepare nourishing meals to ensure physical strength, and offering friendly companionship along the way, our team can help an older adult you love achieve health and fitness goals. 

To learn more about the home care services trusted by families in Chesterfield and nearby areas, reach out to us today at (636) 493-9058 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.