A large part of aging gracefully calls for accepting and adapting to our maturing bodies. Let’s face it, the older we get, the more we find ourselves modifying our activities of daily living—including our fitness routine. But, just because we don’t move quite as quickly or have the same stamina and endurance we once did, doesn’t mean it’s time to kick our cross-trainers to the curb and take up residence on the couch.
Personal trainer Shelby Conn works with seniors, all with different limitations and exercise priorities. So, even though she creates individualized plans for these clients, she incorporates similar general fitness guidelines into all of them. “As a rule, older adults should participate in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week,” Conn says, adding that the exercise could include walking, biking, swimming or weight-training.
For those who are new to working out, it’s important to build up endurance by setting and achieving smaller goals, leading up to 150 minutes per week. Adding a little more time or a few sets to each exercise every other session is a safe way to do this. And, it’s always a good idea to get your physician’s approval before starting any exercise plan.
At any age, including those 65 and older, striking a balance between cardiovascular and strength exercise should be the goal. “When it comes down to it, these factors work together and are beneficial to sustaining an independent lifestyle,” Conn says.
With age, our bones become less dense and lose strength. To prevent this, older adults should participate in exercises that use their body weight for resistance. Walking is a great example of this kind of a physical activity, unlike using a recumbent bike that does the work of supporting your bodyweight for you.