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Wellness Wednesday: Promoting Physical Activity for Seniors

Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.


We know what you are thinking...it's hard enough to get yourself to commit to exercise and be active on a regular basis, much less your aging loved ones.


However, the recommendation for all adults is to engage in physical activity at least THREE days per week. Before you start thinking about how hard this may seem, you should know that "physical activity" is a term that is loosely defined. It requires energy output, and can be anything from going for a walk to washing the dishes while you stand for a prolonged amount of time. Now, how simple is that? Feeling motivated yet? Well, how about if we tell you that physical activity is good for older adults because it helps to improve BRAIN HEALTH? No, not yet? That's okay, we'll keep going.

  • Exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes in high-risk older people. In one study, lifestyle changes led to a 71 percent decrease in diabetes among people 60 and older.

  • In another study, moderate exercise was effective at reducing stress and sleep problems in older women that were caring for a family member with dementia. (Does this one stick out to anyone??)

  • Researchers also found that exercise, which can improve balance, reduced falls among older people by 33 percent. (This one is always relevant as falls are among one of the greatest threats to the older population.)

Okay, okay. Enough. We hope you are motivated now. Now for some key guidelines just for older adults to help increase activity:

  • As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should perform multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.

  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand how and whether their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.

  • When older adults cannot perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

7 Exercise Tips:

  1. STRETCH!

  2. Engage in light yoga or aerobics. There are tons of free videos available on YouTube.

  3. Try water aerobics if available in your area.

  4. Try chair exercises (no, really, it's a thing - see links below).

  5. Work on balance and flexibility.

  6. Try breathing exercises to improve lung health and functionality.

  7. Walking around the house during commercials. (If you are strictly a streamer, set a timer and walk around for 1-3 minutes every 20 minutes for as long as you feel comfortable - no excuses here.)

Important reminder: People with chronic conditions and symptoms can consult a health care professional or physical activity specialist about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for them.


Links/Resources:


Yoga for Seniors Video:

https://youtu.be/kFhG-ZzLNN4

https://youtu.be/NDLad2vOHkU

Chair Exercise:

https://youtu.be/cYiH0p4hAm4

https://youtu.be/8BcPHWGQO44



*Facts & Statistics brought to you by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and The National Institute on Aging

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