This isn't about six-pack abs or competition weight lifting. It's about life. Seniors who exercise are healthier, suffer fewer falls and fractures, and -- most importantly -- live more independent lives.
Yet only 11% of the over-65 set does strength-building exercises the recommended two or more times per week, according to CDC data. The report appears in the Jan. 23 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The national health goal is to up this number to 30%. If that sounds hard, the CDC numbers provide a clue: Nearly 25% of active seniors meet the strength-building objective.
Being active means moving your butt -- what the CDC calls "moderate-intensity physical activity" -- for at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Or you can do more vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, at least three days a week.
Not sure which exercises are best? The National Institute on Aging has an online guide -- complete with an exercise video. Look for the exercise guide at the NIA web site, https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/growing_stronger/growing_stronger.pdf.
If you're just starting an exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor first. The CDC calls for churches, community centers, senior centers, schools, and fitness centers to offer exercise programs for older adults. These programs should:
- Increase awareness of fitness benefits
- Be affordable.
- Be friendly to people with physical limitations.
- Offer transportation.
- Address the fear of injury.