Skip to content

What older adults should add to their exercise program

Most people associate aging with being weak, frail, and declining health. But aging is a natural process — and attitude makes all the difference! 

One of the changes people typically notice as they age is the loss of muscle mass and weakness. They may start to feel tired and notice issues like poor posture, tightness, pain, and more.

Pretty overwhelming, right? No one likes experiencing any of those things. 

But the good news is — you have the power to minimize the process and reverse many signs that are typically associated with aging. Evidence suggests that regular exercise can reduce the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and even increase life expectancy, plus exercise can slow down chronic disease.  

So, truly, it is never too late to get started on an exercise program. Even if you are in your 80s, 90s or even 100s, you can minimize frailty, reverse weakness and slow down the progression of disabling conditions with the correct exercise prescription.

But what if I’m already in an exercise program? 

If you’re already exercising regularly, I want you to ask yourself: “Am I doing the right exercise program?” or “What is the right exercise prescription for me?”

It may be that you need to add more intensity to your exercise regimen. Studies have shown that strength and endurance training at moderate-to-high intensity levels can improve health. Furthermore, muscle training can improve health outcomes in the elderly, and even prevent disability. 

Even just adding one or two exercises a week with a little more intensity, or that are a little more challenging, can help. And if you’re not sure where to start, check out Bold, and we’ll create a personalized program that fits your needs.

What if I am walking for my exercise?

If you are only walking for exercise, you might need to consider adding some moderate intensity strength training and endurance training to your program. 

The CDC, AHA, and ACSM recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (or 30 minutes each day for five days). You might try swimming, cycling, hiking, dancing, walking or active recreation. Also, it’s important to add at least two days per week of moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity, such as resistance or weights.

Not sure if you are exercising at a moderate level or an intense level?

Here are some clues you are at a moderate level: 

  • Your breathing quickens, but you’re not out of breath.
  • You develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes of activity.
  • You can carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing.

The key takeaway is to move with more intensity. This is what has been missing in exercise programs for older adults. Make sure to ask your health care professional or physical trainer for help if you need it. Always look out for your safety, stop the exercise if you don’t feel well and progressively work your way up. 

—Alicia Rios, CSCS

Alicia is a kinesiologist and personal trainer with over a decade of experience leading fitness programs at luxury retirement communities in Northern California. Alicia also specializes in strength and conditioning for rehabilitation, and her classes offer a mix of challenging and creative exercises. Why is Alicia passionate about Bold?: “Bold is about going beyond where we are today and creating the future that we want to live in.”