Regular exercise and physical activity are important to the physical and mental health of everyone including older adults. They help maintain and improve physical strength, fitness, and ability to do the things you want to do. Additionally, regular exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Studies also suggest that regular exercise can help with depression and mood overall.

Exercise falls into four different categories:

  1. Endurance
  2. Strength
  3. Balance
  4. Flexibility

Exercise can help you do many of your everyday activities. Endurance activities will make it easier for you to vacuum, rake leaves, and even push your grandchildren on the swings. Strength activities can help you carry your smaller grandchildren, carry a full laundry basket, and lift bags. Flexibility exercises make it possible for you to make the bed, bend over to tie your shoes, and pick up something from the floor. Balance exercises can help you stand on tiptoe to reach something on the top shelf, walk up and down the stairs, and walk on uneven sidewalk without falling.

Tips to help you get started

  1. Include physical activity in your everyday life

Physical activity needs to be a regular, permanent habit to produce benefits. It is important to make it a priority. Being active is one of the most important things you can do each day to maintain and improve your health. Make your activity routine fit your personal lifestyle. Choose activities that appeal to you and make it easy. If it’s too difficult or cost too much, you probably won’t be as active. Also, having an exercise buddy can help you to keep going. Enlist a friend and make it social. Do things you enjoy together and experiment other activities you may enjoy as well such as fishing, jogging, or gardening.

  1. Try all four types of exercise

Be creative and choose activities from each of the different types of exercises- endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

  1. Plan for breaks in the routine

There are several events that can interrupt your physical activity routines. Plan for those events and start again whenever you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember the reasons for starting to exercise and go back to your main goal. Start with an easy activity and keep going. Believe in yourself and motivate yourself to keep going and start again.

Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH