The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that seniors continue to engage in regular aerobic exercise for its physical and mental benefits. According to the Partnership for Prevention, senior adults are the least likely of all age groups to regularly exercise but can often benefit the most. Finding a routine that is fun and increases your fitness level can improve your quality of life and increase your life expectancy.
Get Your Heart Rate Up
If you are over age 60, your aerobic routines should be safe yet strenuous enough to boost your heart rate into an aerobic zone, about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. According to the American Heart Association, the maximum heart rate for seniors ages 60 to 65 is about 160 beats per minute while the maximum for seniors ages 65 to 70 is 155 and for ages 70 and over, about 150 beats per minute is the maximum.
Another way to measure intensity is to try to talk while exercising. If you can comfortably carry on a conversation, you may not be exerting yourself enough. If you are gasping for breath, you are working too hard.
Gradually Increase Time
Aerobic routines should be long enough to move you into an aerobic state without causing overt fatigue. Generally, an aerobic routine consisting of a warm-up of about 10 to 15 minutes, coupled with an aerobic workout in the target heart rate zone of about 20 to 30 minutes five days a week, is sufficient to gain cardiovascular and other benefits. The ASCM recommends that people just starting an aerobic routine start with sessions lasting no more than about 10 minutes and work up from there as endurance increases. Check with your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough for aerobic exercise.
Beneficial Exercise Choices
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, senior citizens may take longer to heal from an injury so aerobic routines that are safe yet effective are important for many older adults. Walking and swimming pose little risk of injury and can quickly raise your heart rate. "Arthritis Today" magazine states that walking helps strengthen your muscles which can help prevent or lessen joint pain. Walking also helps nourish your joints, which can delay deterioration.
Water exercises are another excellent, low-impact aerobic activity that are easy on your joints. Swimming, water walking and water aerobics classes can strengthen muscles that can deteriorate in the senior years. Classes can be fun while teaching you how to perform the exercises correctly.
Overcoming Objections and Staying Motivated
Objections to aerobic activity that keep you from exercising include pain, disabilities, lack of confidence, poor vision and depression. Exercise routines that are easy on the joints can reduce and even help improve pain. Routines that provide companionship, such as walking or water classes, can offer both physiological and emotional benefits. Exercising with a friend or in a group can increase motivation, build friendships, and even lessen depression.
Your doctor or a certified fitness trainer can help tailor a routine to your fitness level and physical limitations.