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Five Exercises for People Over 50

No matter your age, it's never too late to get fit

A Veteran stretching and preparing to run on the road in the morning

People over fifty don't have any special limitations on exercising. Age isn't an issue; for most people, it's about establishing structure or routines. Exercise can be formally structured, or it can simply be a part of your daily routine.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150-300 minutes per week of moderately intense physical activity as well as muscle-strengthening activities, like lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least two days per week for basic health benefits. We provide options below that may help you identify where you can add some exercise or activity into your routine, and in a way that works for you.

  • Walking - it's the move you can do virtually anywhere, anytime, and at any age. Charlie Hooker walked his way to a 150 lb weight loss. Charlie has gone from doing nothing at all, to various outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, and walking more than 20,000 steps per day. "I have been using an indoor peddler for a few years. Now I am purchasing a bicycle and will begin riding outside." 

No matter where you are, or what time it is, and regardless of your age, there's almost always a way that you can take a few, or a lot, of steps. You can do it alone or virtually with a friends, inside, outside, with music, to a video, in a park, or your yard. Your smartphone probably has an app that can help. See how the benefits of walking are limitless in MOVE! Walk.

  • Core - Your core muscles, or abdominals, are the muscles around your stomach or tummy muscles (the stomach is an organ and not a muscle). Strong abdominals play an important role in good posture, respiratory function, and low back health. So, score more by working your core! You can find some basic core exercises here: Strengthening Your Core.

  • Yoga - If you prefer something more meditative, or you'd like to increase your flexibility, balance, and focus, try yoga or tai chi.

John Hickman and his wife added yoga to their physical activity routine. He says, "The MOVE! team taught me proper nutrition and exercise. The first day of class the MOVE! Coordinator, Brooke Ward, showed us a video of a disabled Veteran doing yoga. My wife and I went home, researched it and purchased the yoga DVD's and did yoga for three weeks. I lost almost 8 pounds. I kept it a secret! At the end of the month I met with Brooke and showed her my results to surprise her. After that I did yoga for another 8 weeks, lost over 20 pounds, and I LOVE it!"

  • Strengthening - This can be done with equipment, household items, or your body weight. If you have access to an in-home gym, there are many options for equipment based on what part of your body you want to strengthen. It's recommended that you perform strengthening exercises at least twice per week and that you target the large muscle groups each time. Always be careful when doing strengthening and be sure you monitor your posture to prevent injury.

For a list of strengthening exercises using a resistance band, this MOVE! Handout, Resistance Tubes and Bands, provides several examples that you can choose. If you're going to use household items, visit the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Exercise and Physical Activity page for some great ideas. You can also try wall push-ups, bodyweight squats, or hamstring curls with just your bodyweight to build strength

  • Sports - Pick your favorite one to do alone or with your partner! Tennis, golf, cycling, running...you name it. Anything that uses your full body and gets your heart pumping can be beneficial. Now, get out and do it!

Check out Parvati Govinda's MOVE! Success Story to see how she combines daily walking with a variety of other exercises several days a week to stay healthy!

"I follow the healthy plate method and keep up with my weekly activity goals, reaching my step goal daily and doing a variety of exercise three times per week. I am generally healthier and have less pain."

You may also want to challenge yourself by setting a goal and tracking it on My HealtheVet. This can help jump-start you on the right track to a more active lifestyle and better health. It also becomes part of your Personal Health Record, and available to view online or download.


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Read More

Get Fit For Life (PDF) (MOVE!)

Your Get-Fit Plan (Veterans Health Library)

Fine Tune Your Physical Activity (PDF) (MOVE!) 


Updated July 14, 2020