Monday, June 30, 2014

Exercise Tips for Seniors: Staying Fit throughout Life

Your body will thank you for exercising no matter what your stage of life.

Senior water aerobics group

Exercise improves your quality of life no matter what your age. Aerobic exercise brings you better heart health and blood sugar control. Resistance exercise helps you maintain muscle mass and increase bone density.

For seniors, exercise still improves your bone health. One study of 75-year-old women showed that bone mass density in the spine was improved by gradually introducing resistance training.

The American College of Sports Medicine has specific exercise guidelines for seniors, starting with 150 to 300 minutes per week of aerobic activity, such as walking. The activity can be broken up into even 10-minute intervals. Two days per week, include some resistance training, such as lifting light weights or climbing stairs. Be sure to ask your doctor about exercise before starting a new program.

Here are some tips to be successful:

  • Set reasonable goals. This will help you to stay on course. By maintaining small goals, you will see progress and want to keep going. (Example: “This week I will walk to the end of my street and back on Monday and Thursday.”)
  • Exercise with others. Studies show that communal experiences help people live longer, healthier lives.
  • Practice good nutrition to fuel your workouts. Beginning an exercise program is a great reason to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian. An RD can help you eat sufficient calories, enjoy a balanced diet and drink enough water to prevent dehydration. Your needs will change as you exercise and an RD can support you in your goals.

Your body will thank you for exercising no matter what your stage of life. Get moving and start reaping the benefits of exercise!

— By Jessica Reber, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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