As we age, our body goes through various changes. You may gain and retain weight more easily. Your bones may become brittle because of hormonal changes causing diseases like osteoporosis. You may develop osteoarthritis or even find that your joints are stiffer because of a lack of movement.
Exercise and physical activity are the keys to staying fit, mobile, and independent as you age. The recommended amount of exercise/physical activity per week is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.1 With moderate activity, you are able to speak when in movement; however, with vigorous activity, which is an option for 75 minutes per week, you need to “catch your breath” before you speak. One hundred- and fifty-minutes sounds like a lot, but you can easily break it down to exercising 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Thirty minutes can also be broken down to three 10-minute intervals throughout the day.
Physical Activity vs. Exercise
The difference is simple. Physical activity is anything the involves body movement. This can include going for a walk, gardening, light cleaning, walking to the mailbox, or even walking down the stairs to get something. Exercise on the other hand involves strategic movement with a purpose. There’s a goal that one is trying to accomplish for a specific number of minutes, miles, repetitions, sets, etc.
All exercise is a form of physical activity, but not all physical activity is exercise.
Ways to Incorporate Physical Activity
Four Types of Exercise
Exercise can be broken into four different groups, Endurance, Strength Training, Balance, and Flexibility. Each type of exercise serves a specific purpose, and it is important to corporate a variety of each throughout the week.
Endurance exercise gets your heart rate up and your blood circulating, improving the health of your heart and lungs.2
Strength training builds and tones muscle, strengthens bones, aids in fall prevention and mobility. Exercises from this group may also prevent diabetes and help those with diabetes manage their condition.
Balance exercise aid in fall prevention and strengthens your core.
Flexibility exercises can prevent injuries, help you recover quicker if you are injured, and aids in agility.
Incorporating different types of exercise can help you stay active and independent as you age, and help to prevent and manage chronic diseases. Remember, speak with your healthcare team before starting an exercise regime, stretch before and after exercising, and go at your own pace.
First Picture by FFWPU from Pexels
Go4Life is an exercise and physical activity program developed by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. Although their previous grant is over, you can still find information about ways to increase and maintain physical activity regardless of age and health conditions. For more information visit https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity.
MOVE is a weight management program developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Countless individuals have participated in the program to manage and lose weight, increase physical activity, and as a means for support. The website includes information on nutrition, exercise, mindful eating, and more. Please visit https://www.move.va.gov/.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). How much physical activity do adults need? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm.
National Institute on Aging. (2020). Exercise and Physical Activity. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity.