Getting older doesn’t mean you have to live a sedentary lifestyle. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend all adults over age 65 exercise.
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But how much is enough? Ronan Factora, MD, a geriatrician at Cleveland Clinic, says walking just 30 minutes a day is a good place to start.
“You walk around [for] a half an hour, if you get tired take a break, but then pick it up again and then start walking some more,” Factora says. “The people who actually get the most benefit from physical activity or exercise are the ones who move from the couch to just getting up and walking around. You get the most benefit from that and you don’t even have to break a sweat.”
Factora says the 30 minutes can be broken into 10-minute increments throughout the day. There’s no need to do it all at once. He recommends trying to go for a walk at least five days a week, and add in other exercise such as swimming, a stationary bike, or even dancing. Studies prove that doing things like housework or washing the dishes count as physical activity and provide benefit. The most important thing? Get up and move.
“If you’re getting around and walking, getting the heart pumping, it helps to improve your endorphin levels, that’s one form of exercise,” Factora says. “If you’re doing weightlifting or weight training you might want to think about getting a little bit of guidance, especially if you haven’t done it for a while or if you’ve never done it, to make sure you don’t over-exert yourself.”
Weight training after 65 will not only benefit your muscles, but your bones and balance too, Factora says. But, as always, consult your doctor before starting a weight training program.