Five Exercises for People Over 50
Ideas for getting active at any age
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity—like brisk walking or fast dancing—each week. Adults also need muscle-strengthening activity—like lifting weights or doing push-ups—at least 2 days each week. We have options to help you add 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 little exercise 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, you can almost always 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 park, or in your yard. There are even mobile apps that can help. See how the benefits of walking are limitless in the MOVE! Walk handout.
Core: Your core muscles, or abdominals, are the muscles around your stomach. Strong abdominals play an important role in good posture, respiratory function, and low back health. You can find some basic core exercises in the MOVE! Strengthening Your Core handout.
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 DVDs 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 exercises and be sure you monitor your posture to prevent injury.
For a list of strengthening exercises using a resistance band, the MOVE! Resistance Tubes and Bands Handout 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.
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."
Setting a goal and tracking it on My HealtheVet can help you stay on track to a more active lifestyle. It also becomes part of your Personal Health Record and is available to view online or download.
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Get Fit For Life (PDF) (MOVE!)
Your Get-Fit Plan (Veterans Health Library)
Fine Tune Your Physical Activity (PDF) (MOVE!)
Updated August 5, 2022