Staying active when you’re young is important, but if there’s any age where fitness should be a focus of your everyday life, it’s your senior years.
Staying physically active, even for only 15 minutes a day, can significantly lengthen your lifespan, according to a recent study. Finding time and motivation to exercise can be difficult, and getting started can be intimidating for many seniors.
Here are four tips on how seniors can start exercising.
Take It Easy at First
If you’re new to exercising or haven’t exercised in a long time, don’t let a workout intimidate you. Remember that you have to start somewhere, and that nobody will judge you if you can’t complete a workout or need to take a break.
If you’re in a group fitness class, arrive early and let the instructor know that you’re new. They should be able to modify the workout to meet your needs and pay extra attention to you during class to make sure your form is correct.
If your goal is to walk a mile, start with a distance you’re comfortable with and set small goals to get there. You’ll eventually find the strength and confidence to go the full mile — literally one step at a time.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Advice
If you’re not sure where to start or what exercises are right for you, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. You should always consult your doctor before starting any exercise. Additionally, consider hiring a personal trainer or seeing a physical therapist to identify weak spots and get workout ideas.
Don’t Forget Strength Training
Building muscle will help you power through life’s activities, like lifting groceries and climbing stairs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that seniors get two or more strength training sessions per week. Start with small weights and work your way up. Also consider resistance training, body weight exercises and yoga.
Join a Fitness Group
There are numerous seniors’ groups out there that focus on staying active, such as BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s Silver Sneakers program. Check your local community and fitness centers to see what programs are available near you.
Resources like the Knoxville Office on Aging’s Recreation Library, the Metro Nashville Government’s Senior Recreation offerings, the City of Memphis Senior Center locations and the Chattanooga Government’s Eastgate Senior Center offer lists of activities that range from water aerobics to table tennis.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.