Just 30 minutes of exercise a day boosts health

Medical experts recommend moderate intensity aerobic exercise.

Seniors are urged to exercise and there is a real purpose for doing so. Finding classes in the community that include strength, cardio and stretching are best, experts say, but just sitting less and moving more helps.

"The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week, which could look like 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week," said Joann Puglia, who has taught exercise to seniors for 11 years in Melbourne. "We lose what we don’t use. Exercise helps lubricate the joints, reducing pain and stiffness present in those with arthritis."

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for older adults also indicates 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (30 minutes a day, five days a week).

Benefits abound in exercise from cardio heart healthy exercise, lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It makes bones stronger, helps with pain in joints and aids in sleep.

"Generally, as adults age, metabolism slows down, there is an increase in sedentary behavior, orthopedic injuries and increased chances for falls," said Chris Crotty, a clinical integration specialist at Health First. "Strengthening helps to build the muscles around the joints. There is evidence that strengthening is a key component in reducing risk of falls.

"It’s best to check with your doctor if you have chronic or (an) unstable health condition such as heart disease, asthma or respiratory ailments, osteoporosis, diabetes or orthopedic issues."

"But if you are a healthy senior already cleared by a doctor with yearly checkups, it is not necessary as long as you know what you are doing," said Kathleen Kort, a physical therapist.

"Aerobic, strengthening and stretching can be modified to accommodate participants with a wide variety of health issues," Crotty said. "Common types of classes popular for seniors are Easy Does It, aquatic fitness, yoga, tai chi, balance exercises and chair-based exercise classes."

Participants in an exercise program need to start with appropriate and beneficial exercises based on ability and physical condition to be successful and accomplish their fitness goals, according to Crotty.