Aging and Physical Fitness

Aging and Physical Fitness

We all know that exercise is important. That doesn’t change as you age, if anything physical activity becomes more important as you get older. For older adults the goal should be to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. This can include activities like walking, swimming, and cycling, as well as exercises to improve or maintain strength, flexibility, and balance. The 150 minutes is the prescribed amount of moderate-intensity exercise the CDC suggests for a generally fit American 65 and older. Even though this sounds like a lot, it’s really not. Especially when you can break it down into 10- or 15-minute chunks of exercise two or more times a day. Two brisk 15-minute walks five days a week will get you there. In addition to walking, swimming, or cycling there are dozens of exercises you can do to build strength without having to set foot in a gym.

Here are a few examples for people who are just getting started:

Abdominal Contractions

  • To increase strength in abdominal muscles
  • Take a deep breath and tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold for three breaths and then release the contraction. Repeat 10 times.

Wall Push-Ups

  • To increase strength in chest and shoulders
  • Stand about three feet away from a wall, facing the wall, with feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward and place your hands flat on the wall, in line with your shoulders. Your body should be in “plank” position, with your spine straight, not sagging or arched. Lower your body toward the wall and then push back. Repeat 10 times.

Pelvic Tilts

  • To strengthen and stretch muscles in the lower back
  • Take a deep breath, tighten your buttocks, and tilt your hips slightly forward. Hold for a three-count. Now tilt your hips back, and hold for three seconds. It’s a very subtle movement. Repeat eight to 12 times.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  • To strengthen postural muscles and stretch the chest
  • Sit up straight up, rest your hands, and squeeze your shoulder blades toward one another. Focus on keeping your shoulders down and hold for three seconds. Release and repeat eight to 12 times.

Heel Raises

  • To strengthen upper calves
  • Sitting in a chair, keep your toes and the balls of your feet on the floor and lift your heels. Repeat 20 times.

Knee Lifts

  • To strengthen thighs
  • Seated with your arms resting contract your right quad muscles and lift your leg. Your knee and the back of your thigh should be two or three inches off the seat. Pause for three seconds and slowly lower your leg. Complete eight to 12 repetitions and then repeat with the opposite leg.

Shoulder and Upper Back Stretch

  • To stretch the shoulders and back
  • Bend your right arm, raising it so your elbow is chest level and your right fist is near your left shoulder. Place your left hand on your right elbow and gently pull your right arm across your chest. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite arm.

These are just a few exercises that can help seniors build and maintain strength to allow them to lead healthy independent lives. If you have any questions about appropriate exercise as you or a loved one age feel free to give LOPT a call today.

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