Movement: A Priority for the Older Adult
While it is important for people to be physically active at all ages, movement of our bodies on a regular basis becomes even more critical as we age. Regular physical activity can prevent, slow, or even reverse many of the disease processes common among older adults. It is also important to remember that while some changes in our tissues are normal with age, we can most effectively keep muscles, bones, and joints healthy by using them; in other words, movement and exercise are the closest things we have to a fountain of youth. When it comes to making choices about staying active for you or an older adult member of your family, consider these facts:
Regular physical activity is safe for older adults and should include both aerobic and muscle strengthening components. Balance training is also important for those who have a risk of falling.
Physical activity can reduce the risk of falls in older adults. Every year one in three adults over the age of 65 fall. Falls can result in serious injury and increase the risk of early death. Subsequent fear of falling also leads to a cycle of decreased mobility and further increased fall risk.
Mobility, or the the ability to move our bodies, is key to independence for older adults. The ability to move, access the community, and maintain social connections with friends and family are important for longevity and quality of life.
The CDC provides the following activity guidelines on the amount of physical activity recommended for older adults.
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).
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).
Not sure where to begin? We can help. Our physical therapists can assess all the factors contributing to your movement deficits and develop a plan to get you moving again.
CDC statistics and exercise guidelines from:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The State of Aging and Health in America 2013. Atlanta,
GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2013. Available at www.cdc.gov/aging.