October is Healthy Lung Month, which calls attention to the importance of keeping your lungs healthy and fit. Your lungs are an integral part of living an independent life, although they are a part of the body that we rarely think about. In fact, we often take our lungs for granted until something goes wrong with them.
The Lung Institute estimates that 10 million adults are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis each year, and 4.7 million with emphysema. Living with chronic bronchitis or emphysema can significantly slow you down, making long walks, traveling, and even daily activities difficult to accomplish. But with the right type of fitness routine, it’s not impossible to get your lungs back in shape.
The Benefits of Aerobic Exercise For Seniors
Working aerobic exercise into your senior fitness routine will have a big impact on the health of your lungs. Aerobic exercise is also called “cardio” because it gets your heart rate up, pumping more blood and oxygen to your muscles and body. Regular aerobic exercise allows the entire pulmonary system to increase the maximum amount of oxygen that the lungs can handle, toning the lungs as well as the heart.
According to the President’s Council on Fitness, the recommended amount of aerobic exercise for seniors is 150 minutes per week. This can break down to two 12-minute spurts of cardio, 7 days a week, or 50-minutes 3 times a week (or any other combination that gets you to your goal of 150 minutes!). They do specify, however, that you need to perform a cardio exercise for at least 10 minutes to get the pulmonary benefits from it.
Senior Workouts With Aerobic Exercises
Incorporating aerobic exercises into your senior fitness routine is not as hard to do as it might sound. Here are a few ideas--aside from running and cycling--that can easily be incorporated into your existing senior workouts:
- Ballroom Dancing. Ballroom dancing has become an increasingly popular activity for seniors over the past few years. Aside from the cardio benefits of dancing regularly, learning new dance moves can help keep your cognitive skills sharp, aids with balance and coordination and has a positive social component for seniors.
- Water Aerobics. Aerobics classes are naturally cardio exercises (it’s in the name, after all!), but doing aerobics in the water can be easier on muscles and joints. Moving aerobics exercises to a pool makes the workout low impact and allows you to handle more resistance than you would on dry land, so you can add strength training into this workout as well.
- Pickleball. Pickleball is an up-and-coming sport that is an excellent addition to senior workouts. A combination of tennis, badminton and wiffle ball, pickleball is great for people living with arthritis because of the larger racquet size, is easier on joints and bones because of the smaller size of the court, and helps to improve your agility and balance.
- Swimming Laps. If you’re not a big fan of group fitness activities, swimming laps will get you some well-deserved alone time. One of the best exercises you can do for your lungs, swimming also builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.
Safety and Senior Fitness
Before starting a new fitness routine, it is recommended that you check with your physician to make sure that your body can handle the change. You can also engage a personal trainer who specializes in senior workouts to help build a customized fitness routine for your body and your needs.
You also may want to invest in a medical alert device, like the Mobile Guardian, that you can wear out of the house when you exercise. A Mobile Guardian will ensure that you will have access help should you need it while you’re exercising.