While recently visiting a nursing home, I was saddened by the sight of so many people just existing, and waiting for death to come their way. Some were there because of stroke and heart disease, some because of alzheimer’s and dementia, and some just because they were too frail to handle the activities of everyday life on their own.
As I walked the hallways, I wondered how many of the residents might have escaped this fate had they been exercising regularly all their adult lives? You see, according to a recent study on Physical Activity and Public Health co-published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA), adults and seniors need regular aerobic and strength training exercises to promote and maintain good health. Unfortunately, most older adults do not perform the minimum amount of physical activity required for health and fitness. Lack of physical activity is related to a variety of degenerative conditions including cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, breast cancer, dementia, anxiety, and depression.
The good news is that the minimum activity recommendations for older adults according to ACSM is not difficult to achieve even for the most time pressured person. For cardiovascular fitness, the guidelines call for moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as a brisk 30 minute walk 5 days a week, or 20 to 25 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging 3 days a week, or 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity exercise 3 to 5 days per week.
For musculoskeletal fitness the recommendation is 8 to 10 resistance exercises that target the major muscle groups, completed for one set of 10 to 15 repetitions 2 or 3 times a week. This can typically be completed in as little as 15 to 20 minutes each session. All together including cardiovascular activities, that’s only about 3 and ½ half hours of exercise each week to keep you healthy and fit, and to minimize your chances of becoming a resident of a nursing home.
My hope is that this article will inspire you to start a regular exercise program to help you stay healthy and fit, and you never end-up in a nursing home. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest you contact a qualified health and fitness professional and have them design a safe and effective exercise program for you. Trust me, your good health is well worth the time and money.