Senior Exercise: What is Recommended?


It is a well-known fact that seniors need to exercise to stay healthy and well. We read, hear and see facts about the health benefits of exercise for seniors everywhere; publications, newspapers, magazine articles, TV, community organizations etc.

Doctors prescribe exercise for older adults, just like medicine. Seniors know they need to exercise; however, often they are not sure what to do, what type of exercise, how much exercise to do, and where they should exercise. It is especially difficult for seniors managing chronic conditions to participate in exercise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) a complete senior exercise wellness program needs to include the following components: Aerobics, Strengthening, Flexibility, and Balance.

  • Aerobic exercise: 3-7 days a week. 20 -60 minutes (can be in 10 minute increments). Moderate intensity. Should be able to talk, but not sing. On a scale of 0-10 where sitting is 0 and the very highest is 10, moderate activity should be a 5 or 6.

  • Strengthening: 1-2 sets; 10-15 reps; 8-10 exercises 2-3 x a week. Strengthening the all major muscle groups: Legs, hips, back, abdominals, chest, chest, shoulders and arms.

  • Flexibility: 2-3 days a week. Stretching exercises to all major muscle groups: Legs, hips, back, abdominals, chest, chest, shoulders and arms. (8-10 stretches, holding for 30 seconds per exercise)

  • Balance: 3-7 days a week. The more variety of dynamic and static challenges incorporating all senses the better.

These senior exercise recommendations can sound daunting and confusing to inactive older adults and/or adults managing chronic conditions.

Professional guidance is recommended in relationship to specific exercises to perform, how to perform the exercises, and how intense the exercises should be. Inactive seniors should build up carefully to these senior exercise recommendations.

Physical Therapist are highly trained professionals who can help in prescribing a senior wellness exercise programs specific to meet the needs of individuals managing chronic conditions. GroupHab Physical Therapy offers individual assessment and small senior exercise classes specific to meet individuals needs and abilities. Please contact us at 864-525-2654 for your individual assessment and recommendations today!

For more information on senior exercise recommendations, please see:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity

  • Physical Activity Guidelines

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Injury Prevention & Control

  • Section on Geriatrics, APTA: Exercise Recommendations for Older Adults

  • Go4Life: From the National Institute on Aging at NIH

  • Move Forward: Symptoms & Conditions

  • Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy

  • American College of Sports Medicine.


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