Fitness and exercise recommendations for Heights seniors

The National Senior Games held in Cleveland last month brought attention to the importance of physical fitness for older adults. The games, held in a different city each year, promote healthy and active lifestyles for athletes age 50 and older. 

While most of us may not consider ourselves athletes, the games, and the presentations held during the games, educate seniors at all levels of ability about the importance of physical activity and staying healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Regular physical activity . . . can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.”

The CDC recommends that senior adults choose from three target levels of activity: (1) two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week; (2) one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week; or (3) an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. 

Aerobic activity is any activity that causes ones heart to beat faster and makes it harder to breathe, such as pushing a lawn mower, dancing, biking, or taking a brisk walk. 

On a scale of zero-to-ten where zero is sitting and ten is working as hard as you can, the CDC defines moderate-intensity aerobic activity as a five or six. It makes you breathe harder and causes the heart to beat faster. You should be able to talk, but not sing. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is a seven or eight on this scale.  At this level, you should not be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.

The CDC also recommends that older adults participate in muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) two or more days a week.

The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) offers many exercise and fitness options for local seniors. Classes include aerobics, dance, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, table tennis and Wii bowling. Some classes are free while others require a small fee. Seniors are invited to walk on the fitness track free of charge three days a week.

The Cleveland Heights branch of the Mandel JCC offers a Lunch Plus program three days a week that includes chair yoga, tai chi, a hot kosher lunch (suggested donation $1), and free transportation to seniors living in any East Side suburb. Jamie Cohen, JCC supervisor, said, “We also stress simple exercises seniors can do at home for balance, flexibility and strength, and to prevent falls.”

Cumberland Pool offers both water aerobics and beginning swimming classes suitable for seniors. Summer passes are available at half price ($17.50).

It is important for seniors to exercise safely.  Find an exercise program that is appropriate for your level of ability, and learn with a live instructor rather than a video. Trained instructors can help senior adults get in shape, while ensuring that they are exercising correctly and safely.

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with physical and mental challenges through She can be reached at 216-408-5578 or

Read More on The Senior Section: a resource guide for senior adults
Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 3:16 PM, 07.31.2013