Research tells us that physical activity is good for all older people. Aerobic exercise is especially good. It helps older adults to maintain physical independence, despite the effects of chronic disease. Even people well into their 90s can improve their aerobic fitness. Older adults who are aerobically fit are likely to have a better quality of life and enjoy a longer active life expectancy.
Aerobic fitness is a measure of how well the body can move or work for longer than two minutes. To get aerobically fit, older adults must move the large muscles, such as those in their legs, trunk, and shoulders and need to do this continuously for 10 minutes or more. The total activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) per week.
Research clearly shows that this is the minimum amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity needed to stay healthy. Doing more will provide even greater health and fitness. To learn more, download Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults at www.csep.ca/guidelines.
Once aerobic fitness starts to be lost, daily tasks such as housework and gardening become too tiring to complete. This can then lead to becoming less fit, weaker, and even less active. When active living becomes too hard, older adults start to rely on others for help with the simple, daily tasks of living of on their own.
What are the benefits of aerobic fitness?
Research clearly shows that aerobic exercise:
• Reduces the risk of disease
• Makes daily living easier
• Helps to better manage chronic disease
• Helps to maintain an active, independent lifestyle
As a practitioner, you can offer a variety of different activities and programs for older adults. Encourage your participants to choose different activities to make aerobic exercise more interesting and fun. Have them start off slowly if they are not accustomed to exercise.
Every little bit helps. All exercise will do them good. As they get stronger and fitter, they can do more or different exercises. This adds to the fun too and gets them even fitter.