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Exercise & Fitness for Senior Citizens

Study Supports Idea that Seniors Can Meet Their Weekly Exercise Needs in Small Pieces

Total amount of exercise important, not frequency, research shows; supports recommendation by CDC for seniors on getting proper exercise weekly

June 20, 2013 – Senior citizens need at least 150 minutes (2 hours and a half) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like a brisk walk. There is new research out today that may encourage more seniors to make the effort. The study from Queen’s University says it make no difference if a senior does this in one big effort of in a series of smaller efforts during the week.

The research by Ian Janssen and graduate student Janine Clarke studied 2,324 adults from across Canada to determine whether the frequency of physical activity throughout the week is associated with risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Those in the study, however, were from age 18 through 64, so there were no senior citizens 65 and older, so, it must be inferred this study will also apply to seniors as it does other adults. (See below this news report the CDC information on exercise for seniors citizens.)

 “The findings indicate that it does not matter how adults choose to accumulate their 150 weekly minutes of physical activity,” says Dr. Janssen. “For instance, someone who did not perform any physical activity on Monday to Friday but was active for 150 minutes over the weekend would obtain the same health benefits from their activity as someone who accumulated 150 minutes of activity over the week by doing 20-25 minutes of activity on a daily basis.”

The results actually support the recommendation provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On its webpage, Exercise for Older Adults, it states:

 

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Latest news on Senior Citizen Exercise & Fitness

Today's Headlines for Senior Citizens

 

“We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but it's not. That's 2 hours and 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you might spend watching a movie. The good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don't have to do it all at once.

You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It's about what works best for you, as long as you're doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.”

Physical activity was measured continuously throughout the week by having research participants wear accelerometers on their waists. Accelerometers are tiny electrical devices (about the size of a small package of matches) that record how much a person moves every minute.

Dr. Janssen divided the adults who met the physical activity guidelines (more than 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity) into those who were frequently active (active five to seven days of the week) and infrequently active (active one to four days of the week).

“The important message is that adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity in whatever pattern that works for their schedule.”

The paper was published today in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism

    ● Direct link to article

About Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism

One of the NRC Research Press journals, Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, publishes original research articles, reviews, and commentaries, focusing on the application of physiology, nutrition, and metabolism to the study of human health, physical activity, and fitness. APNM is affiliated with Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and the Canadian Nutrition Society. The NRC Research Press journals are published by Canadian Science Publishing.

Notes

Canadian Science Publishing publishes the NRC Research Press suite of journals but is not affiliated with the National Research Council of Canada. Papers published by Canadian Science Publishing are peer-reviewed by experts in their field. The views of the authors in no way reflect the opinions of Canadian Science Publishing or the National Research Council of Canada. Requests for commentary about the contents of any study should be directed to the authors.

How much physical activity do older adults need?

Physical Activity is Essential to Healthy Aging

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

If you're 65 years of age or older, are generally fit,  and have no limiting health conditions you can follow the guidelines listed below.

For Important Health Benefits

Older adults need at least:

2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest,  shoulders, and arms).

Video: Physical Activity Guidelines: Introduction (Windows Media Player) More videos

1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest,  shoulders, and arms).

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest,  shoulders, and arms).

 

10 minutes at a time is fine

We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but it's not. That's 2 hours and 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you might spend watching a movie. The good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don't have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It's about what works best for you, as long as you're doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.

For Even Greater Health Benefits

Older adults should increase their activity to:

5 hours (300 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest,  shoulders, and arms).

2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) each week of vigrous-intensity aerobic activity and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest,  shoulders, and arms).

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest,  shoulders, and arms).

More time equals more health benefits
If you go beyond 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, you'll gain even more health benefits.

Aerobic activity – what counts?

For more help with what counts as aerobic activity, watch this video: Windows Media Player, 4:48
More videos

Aerobic activity or "cardio" gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to biking to the store – all types of activities count. As long as you're doing them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. Even something as simple as walking is a great way to get the aerobic activity you need, as long as it's at a moderately intense pace.

Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.

How do you know if you're doing moderate or vigorous aerobic activity?
On a 10-point scale, where sitting is 0 and working as hard as you can is 10, moderate-intensity aerobic activity is a 5 or 6. It will make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. You'll also notice that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.

Vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8 on this scale. Your heart rate will increase quite a bit and you'll be breathing hard enough so that you won't be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.

You can do moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a mix of the two each week. Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Everyone's fitness level is different. This means that walking may feel like a moderately intense activity to you, but for others, it may feel vigorous. It all depends on you – the shape you're in, what you feel comfortable doing, and your health condition. What's important is that you do physical activities that are right for you and your abilities.

Muscle-strengthening activities – what counts?

For more help with what counts as aerobic activity, watch this video:

You need the Flash plugin to view this video.

For more information about strength training, visit Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults.

Besides aerobic activity, you need to do things to make your muscles stronger at least 2 days a week. These types of activities will help keep you from losing muscle as you get older.

To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities need to be done to the point where it's hard for you to do another repetition without help.  A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing one sit-up.  Try to do 8—12 repetitions per activity that count as 1 set. Try to do at least 1 set of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 2 or 3 sets.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or the gym. The activities you choose should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). You may want to try:

·             Lifting weights

·             Working with resistance bands

·             Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (push ups, sit ups)

·             Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)

·             Yoga

Tips on Getting Active

Making Physical Activity a Part of an Older Adult's Life
If you're thinking, "How can I meet the guidelines each week?" don't worry. You'll be surprised by the variety of activities you have to choose from.

Here's what different older adults are doing to meet the Guidelines:
    ● David, Age 65

    ● Harold, Age 67

    ● Link to CDC Page on Physical Exercise for Older Adults

     ● Go4Life - Exercise for Seniors of Administration on Aging

 

 

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