Why You Should Be Exercising MORE As You Age & How To Do So Safely

Doctors for many years have recommended to their patients to maintain a balanced diet and exercise but why is it so important?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one of the most important things an older adult can do is maintain an active lifestyle to maintain wellness. CDC also recommends that those over 65 with no limiting health conditions should undergo 2 ½ hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and perform muscle strengthening for all major muscle groups 2x a week.

So what is the benefit?

Performing exercise, especially as we age, helps to reduce risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and injury related to weak bones. The Arthritis Foundation says that “Exercise is the most effective non-drug treatment for osteoarthritis pain, especially water therapy”. Studies also support that regular exercise can increase your lifespan and quality of life.

So the moral of the story is we need to get moving!

Many have said they can not exercise due to their age or physical limitations but I want to assure you if you fall prey to this mindset and chose a sedentary lifestyle rather than an active one your physical health, memory, balance, posture, and independence will decline.

Ok… So exercise is important, what should I do?

If you are a beginner or have not exercised regularly for years, I highly recommend you come to Austin Physical Therapy so we can asses you/your needs and provide you the safest approach. It is important that your posture is addressed early on in an exercise regiment to ensure your joints are safe, bad habits are corrected, and your body Is in the best position possible for strengthening. Commonly human beings are extension natured/dominant which generally leads to weakness in the abdominals and butt muscles which makes squatting difficult to perform and can lead to pain.

3 great exercises we can all benefit from performing!

1. Bridge

Bridging is a time-tested activity that remains as one of the greatest glute activation activities you can do. The bridge helps to pull your tail underneath you and teaches you how to properly hinge at the hips without overusing your lower back with lifting.

-recommend performing in the mornings and at night (2 x daily) 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps

2. All four position

Many refer to this position as the “Cat and cow” position. Weight bearing through both your upper and lower extremities help build shoulder stability/bone density and places your abdominals in a position that can work against gravity. The goal of the exercise is to pull your tail under rounding your back and pressing your arms into the table to drive your sternum towards the ceiling which will help fill your back with air and activate your abdominals. This will carry over into upright activity to keep pressure off your back in standing.

-perform AM/PM and as needed for low back relief. Stay in the position for four full breath cycles before resting. 4 breaths should take you about 1 minute to perform so go very slow and get all your air out each exhale.

3. Heel-elevated squat

This squat variation is a programming squat that helps you perform the ideal squat technique. Often it is difficult to not overextend the lower back when squatting but with the heels elevated you will find that squatting is much smoother. The goal will be to maintain a slight tail tuck while squatting down to ensure no excessive low back compression presents as the depth of squat increases.

-2(10) or 4 breath hold prior to squat exercises or in-between sets of exercise. Recommend performing after you have been moving some/warmed up. Perform as needed.

Written by: Casey Westbrook, PTA

At Austin Physical Therapy, our physical therapists have training and expertise in all these areas, and can help you implement a comprehensive plan of care.


Contact us today if you’d like to speak with a physical therapist about pain management or additional advice on how to help with your headache.

(Austin Physical Therapy has two convenient locations in Huntsville & Brownsboro, AL.)