Senior Health Fitness

When thinking about what regular physical activity looks like across the age spectrum, some might think it drastically changes from the time you are 20 to the time you are 70. It might be true that you “can’t do everything” at 70 that you could do at 20 (and this is normal!), but national guidelines don’t look much different at all from one age group to the next!  The American College of Sports Medicine is the accredited national body that sets and updates national physical activity guidelines, and most recently they were updated in 2017. For adults age 65 and older, the current ACSM guidelines are for a total of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic fitness/endurance weekly, two to three days a week of strength/muscular training weekly, two days a week of ~10 minutes of flexibility training/stretching, and two to three days of balance training weekly.
How these 150 minutes are broken up follow the FITT principle, or Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. Frequency is how often the activity is performed. Intensity is how hard are you working. Time is the length of time you do said activity. Type is the kind of exercise being performed. An example week would be performing 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise 5 days of the week. Another example week is performing 20 to 25 minutes of vigorously intense exercise 7 days of the week. The trade off for how intense you exercise is how long and how often! A good rule of thumb to judge how intense you are exercising is how heavy is your breathing – could you/can you maintain a conversation? Or are you huffing and puffing pretty good? The heavier the breathing, the more intensely you are exercising!
Below you will find each type of exercise broken down:
• Aerobic Fitness/Endurance – 3-5x/week, about 30 minutes each session, types include walking, biking, swimming, tennis
• Strength/Muscular Training – 2-3x/week, about 20 to 30 minutes each session, focus on large muscle groups including legs, arms, shoulders, chest, abdominal muscles, and back
• Flexibility/Stretching – 2x/week, about 10 minutes each session, hold each stretch for about 60 seconds, areas to focus on include neck, shoulder, back, and legs, or yoga practice
• Neuromotor Training/Balance – 2-3x/week, about 10 minutes each session, various balance exercises lasting 10 to 30 seconds each
It is our hope that if you are our friend and happen to be 65 or older, that you will get out and enjoy the beautiful city of Bismarck sometime today to celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day! And I would just like to say one last thing. I know it can be intimidating to think about going for a walk or doing anything physical if you aren’t used to it. But sadly, age is a privilege denied to many, and so is mobility. Think of those you love or have loved that no longer have the ability or option to go for a 30 minute walk. Do it for them as much as you do it for you! You are worth it!!!

Source: Bushman, Barbara A. Complete Guide to Fitness and Health: Second Edition. American College of Sports Medicine. Human Kinetics. 2017.

Post Author: Chloe Sandberg, PT

Chloe is a PT, wife, soon-to-be-mommy, MN to ND transplant, exerciser obsessed with food, Star Wars and Game of Thrones fangirl.


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