Aerobic activity helps older adults burn off calories, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintain joint movement, improve heart health, and increase energy levels overall. Building endurance may take some time, depending on your health and activity level. Try starting with 5-minute cardio sessions a few days a week to raise your heart rate. From there, work toward eventually completing 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days. Moderate endurance exercise for seniors includes walking briskly, tennis, and swimming; more intense aerobic activities include hiking and running.
Research has found that bone mass can be increased in older women by physical activity. To determine whether physical activity can actually reduce the risk for broken hips, a large multicenter study was done. Nearly 10,000 women over 65 years of age were evaluated. The results of this important prospective (forward looking) study appeared in the July 15,1998 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, dancing, biking, swimming, etc.): To promote and maintain health, older adults need moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes five days each week or vigorous intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes three days each week. (Moderate intensity is when you feel "warm and slightly out of breath," and vigorous is when you feel "out of breath and sweaty.")
One of the most exciting areas of exercise research is the investigation of cognitive function. What scientists have learned so far is that brain neurons, the special cells that help you think, move, perform all the bodily functions that keep you alive, and even help your memory, all increase in number after just a few days or weeks of regular activity. In a study in which researchers used an MRI machine to measure the amount of brain tissue in adults 55 years of age and older, they found results, consistent with other studies of aging and brain volume, showing there were substantial declines in brain tissue density as a function of age in areas of the brain responsible for thinking and memory, but importantly, the losses in these areas were substantially reduced as a function of cardiovascular fitness. In other words, the fittest individuals had the most brain tissue.
Cycling on the road and on a stationary bike are both viable options for a low-impact workout. If cycling on the road, you can use an electric bicycle for exercise and also as an effective form of commute. The assistance from the motor helps through tough terrain and makes hills easier, allowing To make it even easier on your back and neck, a recumbent bicycle is a good alternative as well.
Remember, you are never too old to start exercising, and strength training in particular only becomes more important with age. My mom is an excellent example of this. She didn't take up strength training until the age of 74! Now, several years later, she's a testament to the fact that you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density, and mental clarity, even if you get a late start.
Crunch: It presents the same problem as the leg press. You flatten your lower back against the floor as you raise your head and shoulders and feel the squeeze in your abdominal muscles, then go back into an arch when you lower yourself. Although you aren’t using much weight when you do it—just a fraction of your body’s weight—you typically do lots of repetitions.
To stretch your quadriceps, start by standing behind a chair and grabbing it with your right hand. Bend your left leg behind you and grab your foot with your left hand, making sure to keep the thigh as close to perpendicular to the floor as possible. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds or long enough that you feel the stretch in front of the bent thigh. Release the foot and repeat on the other side. The National Institute on Aging Web site features other great stretches for the lower body, including the hamstring and calf muscles.
Carlucci was running a fitness program for young moms when she decided to offer the tagalong grandparents a class of their own. She quickly discovered that routines geared to the issues dancers are most concerned about – alignment, strength, balance and coordination – can open up a whole new world of movement for people over 60 and also help prevent falls later.