Regular physical activity and exercise are known to control or even prevent a variety of health conditions in the elderly. The benefits of exercise in seniors impact heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, certain cancers, depression, and stroke.
More specifically, regular exercise is shown to be beneficial in:
Maintaining weight and burning excess calories
Improving the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol
Building up physical endurance
Optimizing health of the heart, lung, vascular system, bones, and muscles delivering oxygen and nutrients to tissues
Reducing falls and injuries
Enhancing mood and sleep quality
Adequate exercise for seniors may consist of a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise which increases the heart rate to about 75% of maximum predicted heart rate, performed 3-5 times per week. A person’s maximum heart rate is roughly calculated by subtracting age from the number 220. For example, the target hear rate for exercise for a 65-year-old should be no more than 132 beats per minute. When first starting exercise, begin with a lower target rate, such as 78 beats per minute, and work your way up over the first few weeks.
These goals can be achieved by such safe and basic exercises as, walking, swimming, and using exercise machines. Balance exercises, flexibility exercises, and resistance exercises (weight lifting) can also be helpful.
If symptoms of chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, fainting, or dizziness occur during or after any exercise, it is important to stop and notify your treating physician promptly.