‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions. How many of us are thinking about eating healthier and exercising more in the new year? Your primary care doctor loves to see it. We always look for ways to help our patients stick with their health-related goals (including diet and exercise) all year long. Regular physical activity helps keep us fit, boosts our mental health, and helps us get a good night’s sleep. But how much exercise do we need each day?
How Much Exercise Do Adults Need?
Our exercise needs are different at 60 than at 6 or 16. The Department of Health and Human Services publishes helpful guidelines by age group. For example, children ages 6 to 17 should get at least an hour of exercise every day. HHS guidelines for adults recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise–or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity– weekly. This could mean a brisk 30-minute run four times a week–or an hour-long walk on weekday evenings. Moderate-intensity activities include walking, golf, tennis, and swimming. Running, biking, and cardio fitness classes can fit the bill for higher-intensity workouts. Seniors can use the same general guidelines as other adults. However, HHS recommends considering baseline fitness levels and chronic conditions when planning your exercise routine and gradually increasing your physical activity. If you’re inactive or sedentary, the guiding principle is “start low and go slow.” Take your activity up a notch as your fitness level increases. Your primary care doctor is an excellent resource for finding an exercise program.
Your Daily Exercise Routine: Mix It Up
Aerobic exercise like walking, running and swimming is essential for burning calories and losing weight. Also known as cardio, aerobic workouts make our heart beat faster and help us build up our endurance. However, especially as we age, there’s more to fitness than cardio. Doctors also recommend at least two days per week of bone and muscle-strengthening activities like resistance or weight training to make us stronger and promote bone health. We love balance and stretching exercises (especially for seniors) to increase our core strength, stability, and flexibility. Strength and balance exercises can help us fight osteoporosis and avoid injury as we age. Ideas for cardio activity include running, walking, golf, tennis, and group fitness classes from Zumba to water aerobics. Strength and balance ideas include weight training, resistance exercises, yoga and tai chi,
Building Healthy Exercise Habits: Find Something You Love
We know that leading a sedentary lifestyle is dangerous for adults and seniors. Getting active helps us combat the health risks associated with obesity, improve our heart health, and stay strong as we age. But sometimes finding the right format is challenging. As adults, we’re sometimes embarrassed or intimidated when we start something new. However, Dr. Ojha firmly believes there are exercise options for everyone. Whether you’re a triathlete or a chair yoga enthusiast, we want to get moving at every age. While keeping guidelines in mind can help us set goals, we want to make sure physical activity is something we look forward to instead of a chore. Exercise also provides opportunities for social connections and an outlet that improves our mental health. Are you looking to meet new friends? Try a group fitness or yoga class or golf or tennis lessons. Are you looking to clear your head and process challenging emotions? Try a walk or jog. Many of our patients swear by “Couch to 5K” apps which take us gently from intermittent walking to a complete 5K at our own pace. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with hitting the treadmill or stationary bike while streaming a favorite TV show. The most important thing is to get up and get moving.
Finding The Right Exercise Routine: Your Primary Care Doctor Can Help
Starting a new activity (including an exercise routine) can be intimidating. Talk with your primary care doctor if you need ideas for finding an exercise routine that meets your health needs. At Norvinia Health, helping patients stay accountable and monitor progress is one of Dr. Ojha’s favorite parts of the job. She will assess your baseline fitness level and offer recommendations to help you find just the right fit. Once you get going, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.