When you hit your mid-70s, you may feel like your daily routine is so baked in that adding something extra, like exercise, simply can’t be done. But fitness at 75 is evermore important.
A Harvard and Tufts study of 100 nursing-home residents ages 72 to 98 found that a moderate exercise routine (think: resistance bands or chair yoga) three times a week for 10 weeks helped reverse age-related issues like difficulty bending over, lifting anything over 10 pounds, and standing for stretches of time. And guess what? These gains can all be achieved by the over-75 set who have never worked out a day in their life, according to a 10-year investigation of healthy aging conducted by the MacArthur Foundation.
So what should you zero in on? Los Angeles-based fitness trainer Julie Diamond says, “At this age, you want to focus on flexibility, balance, and strength to reduce the risk of injury, symptoms of depression, and arthritis.” After getting the A-OK from your doctor (she can help direct your fitness path based on your current health condition), Diamond recommends starting with brisk walking for about 30 minutes, three to five times a week. If 30 minutes proves too much, she suggests breaking up your sessions into two or three 10-minute walks.
Balance work can —and should — be done daily to help keep you steady on your feet.
When you feel ready, add balance work (think: standing on one foot) and strength training to your fitness routine, beginning with light weights (1 to 3 pounds) and slowly increasing as you get stronger. Balance work can —and should — be done daily to help keep you steady on your feet. However, if you’ve fallen recently or have spatial issues, you may want to start with balance work before taking up walking or strength training. And if free weights give you pause, weight machines provide stability — and even though they look intimidating, they’re easy to use.
If you find your mental acuity slipping (or have bouts of depression), you have even more reason to implement a fitness routine. “Exercise releases the body’s feel-good chemicals,” Diamond says. Beyond that, she says, “exercise is a great technique to help elevate stress and is vital for mental fitness. It’s been proven that exercise decreases overall levels of tension, elevates mood, and improves sleep and self-esteem — and that’s beneficial to everybody at any age!”