Do Parents Get Enough Exercise? How Much Should They Get? HHS Guidelines for Older Adults’ Physical Activity

man using weights

Older People Worry About Falling
Older People Want Independence
Older People Don’t Wish To Be Limited By Physical Problems

I doubt anyone will dispute these assertions. On the other hand, are we–or most older people–aware of the physical activities that help aging adults retain independence so they can continue to age well?

Do we know older people who are couch-potatoes or elders whose leg muscles are so weak they can’t get out of a chair or off of a toilet seat without using chair arms (or equivalent)–or aging parents who can’t walk far without tiring? Won’t we help them age better by encouraging them to do some degree of exercise, so infirmities that could have been prevented don’t limit them?

In 2008 the Department of Health and Human Services published Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the first comprehensive guidelines on physical activity ever issued by the Federal government, with a section that focuses on “Older Adults.” Tufts provided this update this week:

Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter

Special advice from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:
– When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

– Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling.
– Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
– Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
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The following is excerpted from the Physical Activities Guidelines, Older Adults section: Click link to read complete CDC article. Also Click “More Videos” below for a quick demonstration of recommended exercises.

“If you’re 65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions you can follow the guidelines listed below.

Older adults need at least:

jogging 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and
weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
OR
jogging 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and
weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
OR
walking jogging An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and
weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

Need more help with the guidelines?
Watch this video:
Physical Activity Guidelines Introduction Video
Windows Media Player, 4:43
More videos

10 minutes at a time is fine

We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. That’s 2 hours and 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you might spend watching a movie. The good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don’t have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It’s about what works best for you, as long as you’re doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.”
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Also note: “…some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming more physically active. Experts advise that if you have a chronic disease, such as a heart condition, arthritis, diabetes, or high blood pressure, or symptoms that could be due to a chronic disease, it’s important that you’re under the care of a doctor and talk to him or her about the types and amounts of physical activity that are appropriate for you.”

As we try to help parents age well, this is good information to have–not only for aging parents, but for ourselves as well.

 

Related: —Physical  Activity Guidelines for Older Adults from the CDC 2008 study
                   —CDC information  for older adults with chronic problems or disabilities
                   —“Growing Stronger,” Older Adult Exercise Program from Tufts and the CDC
2008 Health and Human Services Guidelines Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans–complete publication for all ages