Staying Healthy As You Age

Seniors should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, according to the National Institutes of Health.1 But if hitting the gym every day does not fit your vision of a satisfying retirement, you can meet this guideline by sticking to the physical activities you enjoy. Here are some of the best ways to get and stay fit, and to support good health in your golden years.

  • Walking. Walking is one of the simplest ways you can stay fit. Even if you don’t relish walking for its own sake, you may enjoy going for a stroll with friends or family, visiting a museum, or exploring the outdoors. To build and maintain endurance, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends walking for 30 minutes at a time.2
  • Yoga. You may think of yoga as involving pretzel-like twists and the skills of a contortionist, but here’s much more to it than that. Yoga helps you develop strength, flexibility, and balance – three key factors for seniors, as defined by the NIA. Some types of yoga focus mostly on breathing techniques, while others rely on supportive devices, even chairs, to help you stretch and strengthen safely.
  • Swimming. If you have access to a pool, swimming is an excellent form of exercise at any age. It helps build strength and endurance, with little or no impact on your joints. If swimming laps isn’t for you, water aerobics or water walking are both excellent workouts that can be done in a group – adding a social aspect to the time you spend in the pool.
  • Strength Training. Strength training is an important tool for maintaining bone density and preventing falls, both of which are increasingly important as you age. Many gyms and senior centers offer strength-training classes aimed at older adults.
  • Chores. If the time spent exercising feels too unproductive for you, accomplish two goals at once by getting your exercise from chores. Staying active with everyday tasks can go a long way toward helping you stay healthy and independent. Get your blood pumping by taking the stairs, carrying your groceries, gardening, and many others.
  • Dancing. One reason many people have difficulty sticking with a workout routine is that, well, it feels like work. But if you love to dance, you can easily get in your exercise while having fun. Look for social dancing opportunities, such as line dancing, or try a dance-style class like Zumba.

Whatever type of exercise you choose, make sure it is enjoyable and safe. That way, you will want to stick with it over time, and you’ll be able to do so without risking serious injury. If you’re not sure whether a certain kind of activity is right for you, check with your doctor.