Exercise and older adults

By Jill Pease • Published: July 24th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

This news might make you jump out of your seat. A recent study found that for adults over age 60, every additional hour a day spent sitting is linked to a 50 percent greater risk of being disabled, regardless of how much moderate exercise a person may get.

The Northwestern University researchers give this example: If there are two 65-year-old women, one who sits for 12 hours a day and another who is sedentary for 13 hours a day, the second woman is 50 percent more likely to be disabled.

While exercise is important at any age, active older adults may be able to remain independent longer and stave off age-related health problems. Exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, and studies have shown that physical activity also confers mental health benefits for older adults, including lower rates of depression and cognitive decline.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults 65 and older who have no limiting conditions aim for a weekly total of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, which is equivalent to brisk walking. Older adults should also strive for two sessions a week of muscle strengthening exercises that work all the major muscle groups.

Those two-and-a-half hours of exercise should be spread out over the week. In fact, exercise can be broken into 10- to 20-minute increments. And physical activity can come in many forms, such as gardening, swimming, cycling, dancing or doing household chores. Even mowing the lawn counts. Participating in a variety of activities can make exercise more enjoyable and reduce the risk of injury.

The important thing to remember is, don’t just sit there … move.