There’s a reason doctors and medical experts are continually recommending that people of all ages get in their daily dose of exercise. The benefits that come along with exercise are numerous and include optimal weight maintenance, improved balance and coordination, muscular strength, joint health and flexibility, better mental health, bone health, and heart health. As we age and become more susceptible to illness and physical decline, exercise is more important than ever, but studies show that 67% of seniors are primarily sedentary.
One of the best forms of exercise for seniors is aerobic, or exercise that relies on oxygen for energy. Cardiovascular exercise is any form of exercise that increases the heart rate. So, even though there are differences between the two, the terms are often used interchangeably because any exercise that runs on oxygen will likely increase one’s heart rate.
Aerobic exercise offers many benefits:
- Just like any other muscle in the body, regular exercise will make your heart stronger and more efficient.
- It lowers your resting heart rate by enabling the heart to pump more blood with every beat.
- It helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of heart disease.
- Most aerobic exercise is weight-bearing, which aids in maintaining bone density and strength.
- It can improve lung capacity by increasing endurance and reducing breathlessness.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that older adults get in at least 150 minutes per week of low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. If 150 minutes is unreasonable due to a chronic condition, seniors should be as active as their health allows.
To ensure you’re working hard enough to reap the benefits mentioned above, consider wearing a fitness tracker while exercising to monitor your beats per minute. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Moderate exercise should fall between 50% and 70% of your maximum heart rate.
These are some of our favorite forms of aerobic exercises for seniors:
- Brisk Walking
- Water Aerobics
- Stationary cycling
- Exercise classes or videos
If you’re new to exercise, you will likely have to work your way up to that 150 minutes per week and your target heart rate. You may want to chat with a fitness professional and have them put together a balanced program for you, including aerobic exercise alongside strength, balance, and flexibility training. Most importantly, whether you’re just starting or embarking on a new program, please consult your physician first!