Senior Health & Fitness Day: Tips for Starting an Exercise Program

We’ve heard it all before. You want to start an exercise program, but you think you’re too out of shape or “too old.” Well, we’re here to tell you there’s no such thing.

Today is the 20th Annual National Senior Health and Fitness Day. It’s a day to increase awareness of the benefits of a regular exercise program for older adults, as well as to encourage all older adults to take advantage of the many health and fitness programs offered in their communities.

Anyone can benefit from exercise — even if you’ve never done it before. If you have not exercised in the past, all you need to do is start small. The benefits of exercise are numerous, including:

  • Improved blood pressure
  • Improved bone strength and muscle strength
  • Improved sugar levels
  •  Improved sleep quality
  • Improved cognition – that’s right – when you exercise your body, your mind also benefits!
  • Decreased pain
  • Decreased depression rates
  • Improved endurance

These things sounds pretty good, right? Thought so. Here are some guidelines to help you begin your own exercise program — even if you’ve never exercised before.

  • Talk to your doc. Visit your physician for a full examination and to discuss any precautions you should take before beginning a program.
  • Slow and steady. Start out slow and increase your time and intensity of exercise at a slow pace. Don’t get frustrated with the pace — just remember, no matter how slow you’re going, you’re beating everyone on the couch!
  • Warm up, cool down. Always warm up before and cool down after exercise — ALWAYS! Aim for about 10 minutes each.
  • Make it routine. Finding time — and motivation — for exercise can be difficult, especially if you have never done it before. Pick a regular time to help make it part of your daily routine. We also recommend finding a fitness “buddy” so you can encourage each other to stay on track.
  • Start simple. You can do simple things to get started. Take the stairs, park farther away from a store entrance, or walk all of the aisles in a store. Once you have started, it is important to perform different types of exercise each week.
  • Mix it up. There are many different types of exercise out there, and it’s important to maintain a good balance. Here’s what we recommend.
    • Aerobic/endurance exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, water aerobics, or dancing, is recommended 3 – 5 days/week.
    • Strength training using weights or resistance bands is recommended 2- 3 days/week with a rest day in between. Try switching between arm and leg exercises. Start with a weight that will allow you to comfortably complete 8 – 12 repetitions of an exercise.
    • Stretching should be done 2 – 3 days/week to increase your flexibility and decrease your risk of falling.
    • Balance activities can be performed any day of the week. Activities such as dancing and Tai Chi work on balance. When you perform standing leg exercises, you are working on balance and strengthening at the same time.

It is never too late to take care of your health and begin a fitness program. If you are looking for a fun and safe place to exercise, check out Magee Riverfront’s Health and Wellness Center. We have traditional gym equipment, plus access to our team to guide you through your personalized fitness program. We also offer adaptive yoga classes! For more information call 215-587-3190 or email Wellness@MageeRehab.org.

Find an activity you enjoy and start reaping the benefits of a healthier and happier you! For more tips on exercises to try, visit the NIH Senior Health.

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