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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by age 75, about one in three men and one in two women don’t get any physical exercise. However, staying active is one of the best ways to improve and maintain long-term health.
Physical exercise is important at every age but it becomes even more important as you get older. Staying physically fit will help you continue doing the things you’ve done for years, such as live independently, work, travel and enjoy time with family and friends. You’ll be less likely to fall and fracture bones as well as have a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
When starting a fitness routine, go slowly and gradually build up to exercising for longer periods of time. Group exercise classes are a great option for people who are just starting out – there’s a variety of classes that cater to different ability levels. Having a class to attend keeps you accountable, plus you can make new friends in class to make it social.
If group classes aren’t your thing, consider personal training. You’ll get more individualized attention and workouts tailored to your needs. Working with a personal trainer is also a great way for more experienced exercisers to change things up or push a bit harder.
Water fitness classes are another great option for older adults. They’re low impact but provide good resistance training without stressing the joints.
For older adults, strength conditioning, balance and flexibility work is especially important. As we age, we tend to have more issues with osteoporosis. Strength training keeps your bones strong, and balance and flexibility work can help prevent falls and bone fractures.
Sticking with a fitness routine is a struggle at any age. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated to continue with your workouts:
- Find an activity you enjoy – Running and lifting weights aren’t the only types of exercise. There are many ways to stay active. Walking is a great option that is free and available to everyone. Try 30 minutes a day, a few times a week.
- Schedule your workout – Just as you’d schedule lunch with friends, schedule your workout time. If you have difficulty finding a block of time to exercise, try to work in more walking throughout the day and take the stairs instead of an elevator. Also, remember that everyday chores, such as mopping the floor or gardening, count as physical activity.
- Make it social – Exercising with friends makes it fun and helps you stay motivated when you feel like skipping a workout.
- Do a little bit of everything – One of the best ways to keep from getting bored is to switch things up. Cardio, strength training, balance and flexibility work all have a place in your workout routine. Try to work in a little of each, every day.
Before starting a fitness routine, make sure you consult your primary care physician or a nurse practitioner to review your health history and make sure you’re able to exercise. To find a primary care physician near you, reach out to your health insurance provider.