What are some good exercises or fitness routines for seniors to maintain good health?

At any age, movement and exercise are essential, and as we age, this need becomes more dramatic. We need to maintain cardiovascular strength (for endurance to get out and about), muscle power (to get up and down from a chair, lift our grandkids and do projects around the house) and balance (to prevent falls). These add up to having the vitality to do things we want in life with a minimum loss of our independence. But how can we do this?

Good routines for cardiovascular exercise include 30 minutes per day of walking, swimming or social sports like tennis or pickleball. Balance exercises can include tai chi, yoga, and group balance classes. Strength training may be done in a gym with weight machines or at home with light hand weights and functional movements like sitting and standing from a chair, using your own body weight for resistance.

Research shows that substantial health benefits are achieved with 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. The important thing is to get moving and don’t stop. Working with a physical therapist or a certified athletic trainer can help you do this safely in a way to meet your goals. Get moving — and enjoy.

For more information about outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy available at UVa’s Fontaine Research Park, visit uvahealth.com/fontainetherapy515 or uvahealth.com/fontainetherapy545.

Helen Gatling-Austin and Inga Groseclose are physical therapists with the University of Virginia Health System.

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