Friday, December 8, 2023

Exercise for older adults

By Chandani Kothari, Denton County Extenison Agent — Family & Community Health

Our elders are essential to our communities, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension celebrates National Senior Citizens Day by encouraging them to stay active and strong.

“One of the most important things you can do for your health as you age is to engage in regular physical activity,” said Erica Reyes, Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. “Regular activity may reduce the risk of developing age-related health issues and helps strengthen your muscles. Even small improvements in muscle strength can make a big difference in your ability to live on your own and do things like climb stairs and carry groceries.” Reyes adds.

There are several techniques to build muscles, whether at home or at the gym. Choose exercises that engage your body’s main muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms) on two or more days per week, for 30-minute sessions each. You may wish to consider:

Lifting weights: Depending on your fitness, you may need to begin with 1- or 2-pound weights. Use a lighter weight for the first week, and then progressively increase it. Beginning with heavy weights may result in injury.

Resistance bands: You may substitute weights with elastic bands, which come in various resistance levels, from light to heavy.

Gardening: Heavy gardening activities such as shoveling, lifting mulch bags, pushing wheelbarrows, and digging all use major muscle groups. Gardening is comparable to exercise such as walking and biking. Please remember to always be hydrated when working out in the sun.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends the following when considering exercise and/or physical activity:

Stretch: Before you start any exercise and after you complete any exercise, you will want to stretch your muscles.  This will help loosen and warm your muscles in addition to helping prevent injury and cramping.

30 minutes: The NIA suggests that you should do something to increase your heart and breathing rate for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.  The 30 minutes do not have to be all at once, you could do three 10-minute exercises.

Use your muscles.  Every time you move a part of your body, you are using a muscle.  When those muscles are not used because of a lack of physical activity they weaken.  If your muscles get too weak, you may not be able to walk or even get up from a seated position. Whatever exercise you do should include something that uses your muscles, whether you are walking laps or raking leaves in the front yard.

Improve your balance.  In addition to strengthening your muscles, it is also very important to strengthen your sense of balance.  After all, many falls are caused by loss of balance.  If you or someone you take care of are concerned about falling you might benefit from participating in A Matter of Balance, a nationally recognized program that helps older adults and senior citizens reduce the risk of devastating falls.

Chandani Kothari, Family and Community Health Extension agent along with Area Agency on Aging are holding a free 8 lesson series on A Matter of Balance starting September 1st at the Denia Recreation Center.

Join us to learn the steps you can take to prevent falls and continue enjoying your favorite activities. You can sign up through Denton Parks website at or call us at 940-349-2888 to register.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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