Regular exercise and physical activity are important to the
physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Being
physically active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay
independent as you age. Regular physical activity over long periods of time can
produce long-term health benefits. That's why health experts say that older
adults should be active every day to maintain their health.
How do I get started?
It is important to wear loose, comfortable clothing and
well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Your shoes should have a good arch support, and an
elevated and cushioned heel to absorb shock.
If you are not already active, begin slowly. Start with
exercises that you are already comfortable doing. Starting slowly makes it less
likely that you will injure yourself. Starting slowly also helps prevent
soreness. The saying "no pain, no gain" is not true for older or
elderly adults. You do not have to exercise at a high intensity to get most
For example, walking is an excellent activity to start with. As
you become used to exercising, or if you are already active, you can slowly
increase the intensity of your exercise program.
Is it safe for me to exercise?
It is safe for most adults older than 65 years of age to
exercise. Even patients who have chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high
blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis can exercise safely. Many of these
conditions are improved with exercise. If you are not sure if exercise is safe
for you or if you are currently inactive, ask your doctor.
What type of exercise should I do?
There are several types of exercise that you should do. You will
want to do some type of aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes on most days
of the week. Examples are walking, swimming and bicycling. You should also do
resistance (also called strength training) 2 days per week.
Warm up for 5 minutes before each exercise session. Walking
slowly and then stretching are good warm-up activities. You should also cool
down with more stretching for 5 minutes when you finish exercising. Cool down
longer in warmer weather.
Exercise is only good for you if you are feeling well. Wait to
exercise until you feel better if you have a cold, the flu or another illness. If
you miss exercise for more than 2 weeks, be sure to start slowly again.
When should I call my doctor?
If your muscles or joints are sore the day after exercising, you
may have done too much. Next time, exercise at a lower intensity. If the pain
or discomfort persists, you should talk to your doctor. You should also talk to
your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms while exercising:
• Chest pain or pressure
• Trouble breathing or
excessive shortness of breath
• Light-headedness or
• Difficulty with
What are some specific exercises I can do?
The next are simple strength exercises that you can do at home.
Each exercise should be done 8 to 10 times for 2 sets. Remember to:
• Complete all movements
in a slow, controlled fashion.
• Don't hold your
• Stop if you feel pain.
• Stretch each muscle
after your workout.
Place hands flat against the wall. Slowly lower body to the
wall. Push body away from wall to return to starting position.
Begin by sitting in the chair. Lean slightly forward and stand
up from the chair. Try not to favor one side or use your hands to help you.
Hold a weight in each hand with your arms at your sides. Bending
your arms at the elbows, lift the weights to your shoulders and then lower them
to your sides.
Hold a weight in each hand with your arms at your side. Shrug
your shoulders up toward your ears and then lower them back down.
Speak with your doctor before doing these
exercises if you have a balance disturbance or are concerned about whether
it is safe for you to do them.