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Five Exercises for People Over 50

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

Couple exercising

Whether you go to a gym or use equipment in your home, exercise can be structured, or it can simply be a part of your daily routine. People over fifty don't actually have any special limitations on exercising. Age isn't an issue; for most people, it's about establishing structure or routines.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes per week of moderately intense physical activity for basic health benefits. You can get additional health benefits with muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity, involving all major muscle groups with two or more days per week. We provided 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.

  1. Walking - it's the move you can do virtually anywhere, anytime, and at any age. Robert Black walked his way to a 107 lb weight loss. He started walking just a few miles a day and grew to enjoy it so much that he was walking 10-15 miles per day. He wears a pedometer to track his effort, and to maintain variety, he incorporated bowling, dancing and swimming into his activities. 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 with a friend, inside, outside, with music, to a video, in a mall, in a park, or in your yard. See how the benefits of walking are limitless in MOVE! Walk.

  2. Core - Your core muscles, or abdominals, include the "stomach" or "tummy" muscles (even though the stomach is an organ and not actually a muscle). The abdominals are the muscles that wrap around and support your abdomen. 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

  3. Yoga - If you prefer something more meditative in nature, or you'd like to increase your flexibility, balance, and focus, try yoga or tai chi. Olivia Movsky started with yoga and says "I changed my diet and found other things I enjoy doing for exercise. My exercise changes were very gradual. I already had yoga and I swim a good part of the year, but other exercise was slower in coming. I need a reason to do something, so I help with the year work, tend my garden, play with the dog, visit theme parks, and just stand around talking to neighbors sometimes."

  4. Strengthening - This can be done with equipment or with household items. If you have access to a gym there are many options for equipment based on what part of your body you want to strengthen. It is recommended that you perform strengthening exercises at least twice per week and that you target the major 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 NIA Go4Life website for some great ideas. A sample strengthening progression can be found on the MOVE! Website: Sample Strength Plan For Beginners

  5. Sports - Pick your favorite one! Tennis, golf, swimming, cycling, name it. Anything that uses your full body and gets your heart pumping can be beneficial. Now, get out and do it!

Check out Ronald Williams' MOVE! Success Story to see how he started slowly with just a few minutes of exercise per day and built up to 75 minutes and 3 miles at a time!

"Not only did I change how and when I eat, I also greatly increased my activity level, starting slowly by exercising just a few minutes a day. Eventually, I built up to walking a 5 percent grade on a treadmill at 2.8 mph for 75 minutes: that's 3 miles! I also do 45 sit-ups on my Bowflex machine."

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.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Which activity are you most interested in adding to your routine?

Read More

How Do I Get Started With Increasing My Physical Activity? (PDF) (MOVE!)

Your Get-Fit Plan (Veterans Health Library)

How Hard Should I Exercise? (PDF) (MOVE!) 

Updated June 28, 2019