If you’re an older adult looking to establish a physical activity and exercise routine, you should be aiming to hit about 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, which follows the latest government guidelines. Achieving this healthier lifestyle can include walking, swimming, cycling, and a little bit of time every day to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.
Adults aged 65 or older who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility should try to be active daily.
When we say ‘moderate activity’ what do we mean? These are all examples of moderate activity – the sort of activities that will get your heart rate up and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
- Walking / power walking
- Aqua aerobics
- Racquet sports such as tennis or badminton
As we become older the risk of falls increases. This is often a result of weak legs, poor balance and some medical conditions. It’s therefore important to try and do exercises which improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days of the week; examples of such exercise might be yoga, tai chi and dancing.
Pushing yourself harder
There is strong evidence that also suggests vigorous activity can deliver far more health benefits than simple moderate activity. And here’s what we mean by vigorous activities:
- Jogging or running
- Swimming fast
- Hill cycling
- Fast paced singles tennis
- Football or other team games
- Mountain / hill climbing
The sign of a good vigorous work out means that your breathing is hard and fast and it’s going to be difficult to talk without pausing for breath.
It’s believed that 75 minutes of vigorous activity will deliver similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate activity.
Strength training – why is this important?
It’s important to strengthen your muscles as they are required for daily movement, building and maintaining strong bones, regulating blood pressure and blood sugar and maintaining a healthy weight.
Muscle-strengthening exercises are typically completed in repetitions (reps) and sets. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, for example a bicep curl or a squat. A set is a group of repetitions – for example, 12 squats would be one set and you might look to do three sets of these per work out.
To gain the maximum health benefits from strength exercises, you should look to hit fatigue – the point where you find it challenging to complete another rep.
There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether you’re at home or in the gym. Examples include:
- Carrying or moving heavy loads
- Activities that involve stepping and jumping
- Digging or shovelling whilst doing gardening
- Body weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, squats)
- Lifting weights
It’s important with all exercise programmes that they comprise three parts – warm up, which is design to loosen and warm up your muscles. The exercise itself – designed to build and strengthen muscle and keep you fit and healthy and finally the cool down; there to help avoid sudden drop in blood pressure which can cause dizziness, unsteadiness and even passing out.
If you’re brand new to exercise and physical activity, it’s important that you get the all clear from our doctor before you start on a vigorous workout programme and follow these tips:
- Start slow
- Have a general check up and get clearance from your doctor
- If you have had a joint, hip or any other replacement, get a doctor’s clearance first
- Discuss the fitness programme’s level of exertion with your doctor and qualified fitness professional if you’re working out at a 1Life centre
- Stop the exercise if you:
- Have pain or pressure in your chest, neck, shoulder, or arms
- Feel dizzy or sick to your stomach;
- Break out in a cold sweat;
- Have muscle cramps, or
- Feel severe pain in joints, feet, ankles, or legs.
- Have fun with it! Exercise is great fun. You meet new people and quite often get a new lease of energy!
A fitness programme will only work if you can keep it up and make it a habit.