Exercise, Why and How for over 60's

When we had full time jobs, we all got varying degrees of physical exercise. If you were a construction worker, for instance, you probably thought you got enough workout to last a lifetime. On the other hand if you sat at a desk all day, particularly on a computer, the only physical workout you got was with your hands. These and all the jobs in between provided some exercises, and possibly, some long term harm to the body. Whatever we had to do, the heart, lungs, bones and muscles did what they were called on to do automatically. So our experiences range from nearly sedentary to intense physical activity. But now, in retirement, all we want to do is feel good. With that in mind, let's take a look at how we might accomplish this and possibly repair some damage done to our bodies up to now.

Statistically cardiovascular disease passes cancer as the major cause of death sometime after we turn sixty. Physical activity can dramatically strengthen the entire cardiorespiratory system, and lengthen our lives. You have heard the phrase 'Use it or lose it'. That applies to the heart and lungs as much as to any other part of the body. Exercise prevents atrophy. Atrophy is defined as wasting or decrease in size of a body organ, tissue, or part owing to disease, injury, or lack of use .

Any regular workout is better than none and it is important that you have a workout schedule as well as a workout routine. Your workout schedule tells you the day and time of each workout which should be an absolute minimum of 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week. A more reasonable approach is 30 minutes to an hour, five to seven times a week. The workout schedule should be flexible enough to allow you to miss a day occasionally without ruining the whole plan.

Your workout routine is the game plan you follow in each session. You can have a different workout routine for different days but each session should have a plan to follow. If you don't have variety in your workout you will get bored and eventually just give up. Put together a variety of routines but have a plan for each. For instance I walk at least a half hour every day and then I have two fixed routines for alternate days; one workout routine for pilates and one for weight lifting.


Aerobic means “with oxygen”. Any activity that is rhythmic and can increase and maintain your heart rate for at least 20 minutes may be considered aerobic. The best aerobic workout depends on the individual. Walking, running, jogging, bicycling, and treadmills are all good. The simplest, most popular and easiest to adopt as a habit is walking. For me the best aerobic activity is something I can do anywhere, anytime and without special equipment; walking.


Interestingly the best weight loss workout is aerobic. Obviously weight loss cannot be accomplished without a healthy (Mediterranean type) diet. But isn't it interesting that the best weight loss activity can be accomplished with something as simple as walking. Keep in mind, however, that your walking must be aerobic. In other words casual strolling won't get it. You must elevate and maintain your heart rate for the best weight loss success.

Keep track of your heart rate.

The best way to keep track of what you're doing is to monitor your heartbeat. This is commonly done by taking your pulse. Count the heartbeats in a ten second period and multiply by six. If you go for 30 seconds or a minute your heartbeat may start to slow down when you stop exercising to check. An even better way is to use a wrist heart rate monitor.

In order to have a strengthening cardiovascular effect you want to raise your normal heart rate for a sustained period. For people over sixty that rate should be from 50% to 75% above your maximum heart rate. Your maximum rate is 220 minus your age. If you are 65 your maximum rate is 155. Your normal rate is probably 70 to75. If you haven't been exercising you may want to start at 60%, or about 93. If at any time you feel tired or are breathing too hard, stop and rest. Don't just stop for a minute or two. Rest at least five minutes or until your heart beat is normal for at least two minutes. You can gradually increase your goal with each session. Don't overdo it. It should not take more than 3 to 5 minutes to get back to normal when you stop. Any exertion above normal has a positive strengthening affect.

I do two exercises regularly; walking and weightlifting. I also ride bicycle and do stretching. You can read more about these and other workouts on the following pages.

If you are serious about taking charge of your health and ultimately your happiness, You must have a regular program. There is virtually no discomfort or ailment that won't benefit from regular workouts.

Enjoy your exercise. Reverse atrophy. Brighten your spirit.

Nothing is more important than feeling good.

Walking; the single, best exercise

Weightlifting builds and maintains muscle

Bicycling, another great way for seniors to stay healthy.

How stretching keeps older bodies fit and healthy

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Recommended Resources:

Senior Exercise Central

More Fitness More Happiness. Increase your fitness for a better life.

Benefits of Physical Fitness

Fitness for Fifty Plus