Cardio Exercises for Seniors—Benefits & Best Aerobic Activities

Older black man running on embankment for senior cardio

A healthy lifestyle is great for not just the body, but also the mind. And a major component of a healthy lifestyle is cardiovascular exercise or aerobic exercise. The health benefits of cardiovascular exercise go beyond just improving heart health and include:

How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need?

Cardio is great, but people of all ages need a variety of physical activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

So, just what type of exercises do older adults need?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults (65+) will benefit from pairing aerobic activities with balance training and strength training exercises. Specifically, the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity) each week, with 2 days dedicated to muscle-strengthening exercises, with balance training sprinkled in throughout the week.

Best Cardiovascular Exercises for Seniors

Finding the right aerobic exercise for an older person is all about striking a balance between something the person enjoys and can also safely perform. Below are some popular cardio workouts that many older people enjoy.

TIP: Every workout routine should include warm-ups to safely get the heart pumping and cool-down stretches to ensure all muscle groups get properly stretched to avoid tightness and discomfort, along with improving range of motion and flexibility for joints.

Top Moderate-Intensity Cardio Exercises for Seniors

Moderate-intensity aerobic workouts that are great for seniors include include:

  • Brisk walking: A brisk walk is an easy way to get the blood pumping without requiring any fancy equipment.
  • Water aerobics classes: Water aerobics is not just a great full-body workout, but also an amazing low-impact exercise for people with arthritis or joint pain.
  • Stationary bikes: Stationary bikes allow people to set the intensity level to best suit their needs. They also do not come with the same risk of falls and crashes as regular bikes do.
  • Dancing: Dancing is a fun group activity that also functions as a great balance/coordination routine and cardio workout.
  • Gardening: Gardening is great not just for the body, but also the mind by helping individuals connect with nature.

Top Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Exercises for Seniors

Vigorous-intensity cardio workouts that seniors can enjoy include:

  • Running: If the individual is in good overall health, running can be a fantastic high-intensity activity for seniors. Because running is such a high-impact activity, however, it is not always recommended for people with joint pain and injuries or those with balance issues.
  • Swimming laps: For individuals with joint pain, a low-impact activity like swimming laps at a pool can offer the cardio benefits older people need to thrive.
    Squats: Squats are great bodyweight cardio exercises for beginners and can be performed with dumbbells or without. This low-intensity activity not only helps boost the heart, but also helps build balance and muscle strength.
  • Hiking: Hiking can go from a moderate to a vigorous workout at a faster pace or hilly enough location.
  • Singles tennis: Singles tennis and similar sports offer not just amazing opportunities to boost heart health but also to help older people build friendships with each other.

Our Focus on Cardiovascular Health at St. Andrew's

Quality of life and improving each resident's sense of personal well-being are cornerstones of each community in the St. Andrew's network. We work with families and doctors to develop robust senior fitness programs tailored to our residents' needs and personal interests. That is why many of our communities offer amenities and activities like dedicated walking paths, indoor pools, gardening/horticulture therapy, dance classes, and other group exercise classes to help keep residents engaged and moving each day.

Contact us today to learn more about how St. Andrew's can help you or a loved one develop an appropriate and effective workout routine.

Disclaimers - This article does not constitute professional medical advice. It cannot diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult with a licensed healthcare professional and/or personal trainer before starting any new exercise program based on current fitness levels and goals.

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