A Guide to Staying Active as You Age

October 9th, 2012

What is active aging? There are plenty of cliches involved with getting older. You have to retire, you slow down and you simply sit around and don't do much. You have worked a long time, and you deserve to relax in your later years. Although your years are getting up there, it doesn't mean you have to stop doing what you love, whether it's golf, running, walking or even playing sports.

Remaining physically active is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It can lower your risk for health problems and increase heart health. Also, staying active can help maintain muscle strength so you can keep doing what you love every day without relying on others. Physical activity also reduces your risk for a potentially serious injury like a broken hip.

The CDC laid some guidelines as to the amount of physical activity those 65 and older should do. However, no matter what your health status is, be sure to check in with your health care provider before increasing your activity level:

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (eg brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms), OR
  • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (eg jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms), OR
  • An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
  • Older adults at risk at falling should do exercises that improve balance. For best results, they should do them at least three days a week.
  • It is vital to choose physical activities that you enjoy and that match your abilities. According to the CDC, these can help you get the most out of your activity.
  • Try to do a variety of activities to make physical activity more enjoyable and reduce your risk of injury.
  • Regular physical activity can still be safe and beneficial even if you have problems doing normal daily activities, like climbing stairs or walking.
  • If you have to miss a workout due to the flu or other illness, be sure to start again at a lower level and slowly work back up to your usual level of activity.
  • To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, start by doing equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Keep in mind that you may need to do more activity or reduce the number of calories you eat to get to your desired weight.