Fitness Articles

Cardio Exercise Tips for Seniors

Defy Your Age with Exercise!

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There’s no doubt that getting older changes your body and appearance, but it also affects your ability to exercise. Your maximum heart rate declines with age, which means your heart and lungs can’t pump as much oxygen and blood to your muscles during intense physical activity. As a result, your muscles won’t be able to work as hard or as long as they once could. With age comes reductions in muscle mass, reducing the maximum effort you can sustain. Your tendons and ligaments will stiffen and shorten, reducing your natural range of motion and flexibility. And unless you’re very lucky, you’ll probably have some age-related problems with bones, joints and/or nerves, like arthritis or neuropathy, which will also affect your ability to move as freely as you once did in your younger years.

But does any of this mean you might as well accept the inevitable decline, scrap your exercise plans, and head for your favorite easy chair?

Nope—just the opposite, in fact. Researchers have discovered that much of the physical decline in we associate with aging may have more to do with increased inactivity than with aging itself. Moreover, starting (or continuing) a regular exercise program can delay and reduce the affects of aging, and in some cases, even reverse some of the declines already brought on by previous lack of exercise. The benefits of regular exercise, and the negative consequences of not exercising, are probably most notable between ages 50 and 70 than at any other time in your life.

To put it simply, if you can still move, it’s not too late to improve your fitness level and your quality of life. Not doing that could spell real trouble. For best results, aerobic (cardio) exercise, which I'll cover in this article, should be a regular part of your daily routine.

But it will be important to choose activities and intensity levels that are right for you. Here are some simple rules you can follow to make sure you stay safe and use your exercise time effectively.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • I'm 78 and my exercises of choice are water aerobics recumbent bike, and walking.
    Sometimes I think I should go to the gym, but I have access to these 3 exercises at home. - 8/25/2014 1:13:49 PM
  • good reminder. Thanks. - 2/22/2014 5:22:46 AM
  • VAINVT
    I can't tell you how timely this informative article was. I will turn 69 in a few days, am very fit, exercise 6 days a week, but have been feeling tired and achy. This makes me wonder if age is a factor, and whether I should just cut back a bit. Your article makes me realize that, although age is probably a factor, exercise continues to make you stronger and more flexible at any age. So, I'll just keep moving and lifting. Thank You. - 1/27/2014 7:54:16 AM
  • RICCKY
    Cardio work out is valuable for health especially for reducing weight. Diving is one of them and my preferred as well. i really like to do it and also very pleasant in summer season months..

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  • MIA-MORSEL
    I'm on Day 6 and not-at-all energetic but while reading this article I just HAD to get up and walk an extra 600 steps around the house. If you only knew have lazy I am, you would be applauding like mad lol

    will be back time and again to read this article. - 8/24/2013 6:36:28 PM
  • RENNEMALL
    It is very important to take good care of your health and keep yourselves fit especially when you have crossed the age of 50.
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  • Thank you for this information. I hope you'll continue to give us "seniors" more great advice. - 3/3/2013 9:10:31 AM
  • Great and encouraging article for SP seniors who hope to stay active well into our golden years! I especially appreciate the reminder that mixing low intensity and higher intensity in a single longer workout, can work to our advantage. I think that I do that naturally, now, when I can, but I wasn't thinking of it in those terms. This helps motivate me to stay with a workout longer! - 12/16/2011 5:34:28 PM
  • SIXTEES
    Lots of good detailed information - just what I was looking for. - 7/25/2010 1:40:17 PM
  • SIXTEES
    Lots of good detailed information - just what I was looking for. - 7/25/2010 1:39:56 PM
  • I am glade to see an article about Senior exercise. We need to encourage our Seniors to be more physically active. I teach an exercise program called Body Recall that emphasizes flexibility and muscular endurance. It has given my students tremendous fitness improvements in a short period of time, and is taught in a safe environment. We do most of our exercises in a chair to remove the balance concern, but strengthen to improve balance. Combining this type of program with cardio will retard the agining process.

    Our health care crisis could be minimized with consistent exercise from our Seniors, as well as all ages. I encourage any age to get up and get moving. We substitute the word "exercise" with the word "movement" because so many Seniors are intimidated with their preconceived idea of what exercise should be. If they could learn more possible and effective exercises to do, hopefully they would be encouraged to be more active and take responsibility for their fitness. He is right on when he says most aging effects are from inactivity, therefore could be slowed down and minimized. Fitness is activity related, not just age related! - 10/6/2009 10:03:50 AM
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