Benefits of Aerobic Exercise for Older Adults
Aerobic exercise, defined as any type of cardiovascular conditioning, has numerous benefits for aging adults. The CDC recommends that older adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes of high-intensity activity, or some combination of the two every week. Keeping a regular routine such as this is incredibly beneficial. Improved strength, conditioning, and increased energy levels are some of the most common benefits. Beyond the basics, aerobic exercise also improves immune response, helping prevent common illnesses such as cold or flu. It can also help in the prevention and maintenance of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Speaking of heart disease, there are also benefits to those with hypertension, or related conditions such as coronary artery disease.
Top Aerobic Exercises for Older Adults
It’s important to consider the level of intensity that is appropriate for your loved one. The great thing about aerobic exercises is that many of them allow for a varying range of intensity, and it’s relatively easy to determine a safe level of intensity. Talking with your loved one’s doctor is also a great way to make this decision, as they’ll be able to account for all relevant factors.
Lower-Medium Intensity Activities
Walking is a great way to stay in shape, and also a great form of social activity for older adults. It’s easy to start slow by simply walking to the end of the street and back, and slowly adding distance until it becomes too strenuous. Listening to music or podcasts can be a great way to make the time go by faster while walking, or by walking dogs and getting both activities done at once!
Swimming or Water Aerobics
Swimming is a favorite activity for many older adults, for a wide range of reasons. It takes a very low toll on joints and the body overall compared to other cardiovascular activities, and can be a great reason for older adults to meet up with friends or family and do an activity together.
The only downside to swimming is that some people may not have access to a pool. Many gyms offer discounted memberships for seniors, and some larger gym chains partner with AARP to offer discounted rates to members. If transportation is an issue, check with your local city or county transportation authority. Many areas have local programs sponsored by the government to help older adults get to places like the gym or doctor’s office if they don’t have other forms of transportation.
Moderate-High Intensity Activities
Cycling is a great activity for those who have limited range of motion in their upper body. The only downside is that it requires a constant supply of energy to keep the bike moving and upright, meaning it may not be a great activity for those more on the beginner end of a fitness routine. For those who can safely handle a more intense level of activity, biking can be a great way to stay fit while getting around town. Many bikes now come with phone holders so you can use GPS while biking, or baskets so you can stop for simple errands like groceries.
Stationary bikes can be a great alternative for those who enjoy cycling, but prefer the convenience and safety of an in-home workout. There’s a wide range of options, so you should be able to find one no matter your price range. If you’re interested in learning more, click here for our favorite stationary bikes!
Dancing or Zumba
Dancing is often cited as one of the top exercise activities among older adults, keeping you moving and your energy levels up! There’s many different types of classes and programs for those who enjoy dance fitness routines, such as Zumba. Asking your gym about classes can be a great place to start, but there are also dedicated studios for Zumba or dance cardio that may be in your local area.