Senior Fitness and Active Lifestyles

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on November 26, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA on November 26, 2014

Fitness for Older Adults

Staying active as you age has many health benefits. Regular physical activity keeps down your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also helps you maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). This in turn lowers your risk for health conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults who stay physically active have better-quality sleep, fewer symptoms of depression, and reduced cognitive decline. Exercise and strength training can help with balance and coordination, which reduce your risk of fall and injury.

It’s easy to get moving. Try these simple tips to get started. Always be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new fitness routine.

Get Active

If you are not currently physically active and are worried about easing back into a more active lifestyle, talk with your doctor. They may recommend you see a physical therapist that can help you plan an exercise program or monitor you while you exercise.

Build Up

Your goal is 30 minutes of daily exercise. But it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Three 10-minute sessions are just as effective and may be easier depending on your fitness level. As you become stronger, you can increase to two 15-minute periods and move up to a full 30-minute session.

Know What You Can Handle

You don’t have to run a marathon to be fit. Find an activity, whether it’s solo or with a team, that meets all your expectations for fitness and enjoyment. Walking is ideal for many seniors. It doesn’t require special equipment other than good shoes, and you can do it anywhere, anytime, and during any season. The key to staying active is interest in your activity. Many senior centers and national gyms offer yoga or tai chi classes. These can help with balance and flexibility. Water aerobics is another great option. It’s low-impact and ideal for adults with knee or foot problems, muscle pain, or joint limitations.

Be Sure to Stretch

Stretching after exercising is essential to prevent any soreness or muscle aches. Many fitness experts don’t recommend stretching before physical activity as it can weaken muscles and decrease performance. A regular stretching routine can also help your muscle and joints become more limber and increase overall flexibility.

Don’t Let Disease Hold You Back

Even if you suffer from medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes, you can and should exercise. You just need to be mindful of possible problems like:

  • chest pain
  • extreme shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • unusual heart rhythm

Call 911 if the symptoms continue or worsen. Make sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you exercise in a supervised setting, let someone know your medical conditions and any symptoms you may experience during your workout.

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