Older adults who participate in organized fitness programs are admitted to hospitals less often and have lower overall health care costs than seniors who do not, according to a study released in early 2008 by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The study looked at seniors who participate in the Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program, a national exercise program targeted to older adults.

Older adults who participate in organized fitness programs are admitted to hospitals less often and have lower overall health care costs than seniors who do not, according to a study released in early 2008 by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The study looked at seniors who participate in the Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program, a national exercise program targeted to older adults.

SilverSneakers participants who averaged at least two fitness center visits per week during a two-year period racked up $1,252 less in health care costs than those who visited less than once a week on average.

“The message is that it’s important for seniors to exercise as they get older,” said Tricia Grayson, a spokesperson for the Healthways SilverSneakers fitness program.

 

How often should seniors exercise?

Seniors should perform moderate cardio exercises 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, according to a 2007 report from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association, and they should tackle strength-training exercises two to three times a week.
 

What exercises are best for seniors?

According to the report, seniors do best when combining cardio exercises and strength training. Cardio exercises can include vigorous or fast walking, swimming.  Lifting light weights is best for strength training. The American Heart Association recommends performing eight to 10 strength-training exercises two to three times a week.

 

How can you get started?

Doctors recommend seniors meet with their physicians before starting any exercise program. Then seniors should start slowly and increase their activity level as they get comfortable.

“Just getting out and walking, trying to stay active, is so important,” Grayson said.
 

When will you start to feel good?

Grayson said seniors will begin feeling the positive effects of physical activity almost immediately.

Regular exercise can result in increased flexibility and muscle strength, weight loss, lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system. Exercise also can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease, depression and anxiety.