It is important to keep in mind the specific physical needs of participants when planning your Mood Walks group.
According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, older adults should engage in activity that strengthens muscle and bone twice weekly, such as resistance training using weights. In addition, adults 65 or older with poor mobility may want to add mobility activities to enhance balance and decrease falls. As is true for all adults, more activity provides more health benefits!
The Physical Activity and Aging Resource Guide, developed by the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, reports that to best promote mental well-being in older participants, exercise programs should:
- Be designed with the needs and abilities of sedentary older people in mind
- Have a group format and be community-based
- Be run by trained leaders
- Occur at least twice a week, with sessions about 45 minutes long
- Include the following segments: warm-up, cardiovascular endurance, cool-down, muscle strengthening, balance, and flexibility
Be aware of the challenges older adults may experience in engaging in an exercise program. Be especially vigilant about warming up and cooling down, and be prepared to accommodate participants who use mobility devices. Encourage older adults to begin with 10-minute bouts of exercise and progress gradually, according to their comfort level.
The World Health Organization and the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines developed by ParticipACTION recommend that youth and children get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Benefits of active young people include improved bone health, cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and metabolic and cardiovascular health biomarkers. Additional benefits can include better performance in school, feeling happier, increased self-confidence, skill development, as well as making friends and having fun!
Suggested activities should:
- Be as aerobic as possible
- Include vigorous-intensity activities that can strength muscles and bone at least three times a week
- Be active 60 minutes or longer — physical activity that extends beyond 60 minutes will provide additional health benefits for youth
Youth and children with disabilities should be encouraged to meet these recommendations whenever possible, with careful consideration given to the amount and types of appropriate physical activity as determined by their health care provider. Inactive young people can be encouraged through progressive increases in activity to eventually meet the 60-minute target. For a young person who has not been doing any physical activity, even doing amounts below recommended levels will provide them with more benefits than doing none at all.