How Older Adults Can Exercise Safely

No matter your age, practicing regular exercise is an important part of healthy everyday living that benefits overall wellness and can increase the length of one’s lifespan. Throughout older adulthood and seniorhood, this remains true; indeed, even those over the age of 65 can (and should) safely practice an exercise regimen.  

In this article from QuickHIT Fitness Labs, we’ll review the best ways that older adults can exercise safely. Additionally, we’ll discuss how these exercise methods can be combined in a comprehensive way in order to incorporate all four types of exercise: balance, endurance, flexibility, and strength. For more information on our super-slow strength training and its advantages for older adults, please reach out to a representative at one of our many fitness lab locations. It’s easy to schedule a free consultation, and you can see beneficial results after just a few 20-minute sessions!

The Four Types of Exercise

Before we get into the best practices for safely exercising in older adulthood, it’s worth covering the fundamentals of the various forms of physical movement. Knowing how these relate to general well-being and body function can be especially helpful when developing your own effective exercise regimen.

According to most medical professionals, personal trainers, and exercise physiologists, there are four primary types of physical activity that all people should practice regularly for optimal wellness and healthier aging. These four varieties of exercise are categorized by the functions they serve and the types of movement they involve: 

  • Endurance Exercise (also called aerobic exercise
    • Increases your heart rate 
    • strengthens the cardiovascular system
    • Improves efficiency of blood flow
    • Includes: jogging, cycling, walking, and swimming
  • Strength Training (also called resistance training)
    • Increases lean muscle mass of body
    • Supports strong bones and skeletal growth
    • Boosts metabolism and helps with controlling weight
    • Includes: weight lifting, body weight training, and resistance band exercises
  • Stretching (also called mobility training)
    • Increases muscular flexibility and ease of movement
    • Reduces likelihood of joint pain, muscle strain, cramps, and other injuries
    • Combats and slows natural decline in flexibility that accompanies aging
    • Includes: static stretching, dynamic stretching, and isometric stretching
  • Balance Exercise (also called stability training)
    • Improves physical stability 
    • Reduces likelihood of falls or injury in older adults, who have a higher prevalence of these events as they age
    • Related practices often involve meditative and restorative benefits
    • Includes: ballet, dancing, yoga, Pilates, and tai chi

Getting Enough Physical Activity As An Older Adult

Recommended guidelines for exercise vary according to one’s age, health status, and genetic predisposition for disease or weight-related issues. Although every individual’s exercise needs are unique and correspond with personal lifestyle habits and preferences, it can generally be said that older adults and senior citizens (those aged 65 or greater) have certain parameters that they should strive to address with their styles of workouts and their assortment of physical activities. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), seniors should perform at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderately intense exercise per week. This may take form primarily as either aerobic exercise or strength training, or as a combination of both. The remainder of one’s time spent on exercise in older adulthood can be distributed between types of functional training for mobility (stretching) and stability (balance).

How Does Exercise Benefit Older Adults & Seniors?

All healthy adults who have maintained with consistency a relatively active lifestyle should be able to benefit from many forms of exercise in various ways. Older adults and seniors who regularly practice physical activity can achieve the following advantageous results:

  • Increased longevity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and muscular strength 
  • Decreased risk of mortality (from all sources) and reduced likelihood of developing conditions such as heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), Type II Diabetes, certain types of cancer, and stroke
  • Slowed rate of age-related neurocognitive decline, enhanced mental performance, and improved ability to encode information and memories
  • Strengthened bones and reduced risk of falling or injury
  • Increased basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy the body needs to function at its most basic level) and more efficient absorption of food nutrients

Most Suitable Types Of Physical Activity For Seniors

As mentioned previously, there are four primary types of exercise, and all of these should be incorporated into a comprehensive exercise regimen — especially when one is approaching or one is currently experiencing the life stage of older adulthood. Although getting regular exercise is the most important element of reaping its rewards throughout the course of one’s senior years, there are certain limitations and precautions that should be taken into consideration when selecting which types of physical activity to engage in. 

Low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, and stretching, are well suited for older adults. Unlike high-impact exercises — which include running, heavy weight lifting, kickboxing, and skiing — low-impact physical activity does not apply significant strain to the joints and muscles. This reduces the risk of injury or hyperextension without sacrificing any of the general benefits of exercise. 

Low-impact exercises that seniors can safely and enjoyably participate in include yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, walking, stationary cycling, and controlled resistance training. It’s just as important to maintain strength and muscular health in older age in the same way that it’s critical to keep up one’s endurance, balance, and flexibility. When engaging in resistance training as a senior, it is generally much safer and more effective to work with a personal trainer who possesses familiarity with exercise methods that are best suited for the bodies of older adults. 

At QuickHIT Fitness Labs, we offer a form of exercise known as super-slow resistance training. Our super-slow resistance training involves the use of a specialized machine that is scientifically designed to minimize impact, increase rates of metabolism, strengthen bones, and enhance overall functional wellness. Best of all, our sessions are fast and convenient, taking no more than 20 minutes at a time, so clients of all ages can see positive results after just a single visit to a QuickHIT facility. 

If you or someone you know is seeking safe and effective solutions for healthy exercise in older adulthood, please reach out to QuickHIT Fitness Lab. Our fitness facilities have expanded put of the Midwest and all across the country! Find a QuickHIT location near you today or contact us online to get started!

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