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Fitness and exercise is beneficial to long term health

Exercise Basics

Whether you’ve decided it’s time to start exercising or have always been active, we have a few tips that might help you be more successful and stay motivated to reach your goals.

When you say the word exercise, most people’s first thought is—ugh. I hate exercise. Fortunately, there are lots of activities that you probably already enjoy that are considered exercise.

Believe it or not, there’s more than one form of exercise. Most people concentrate on one type, but research shows it’s important to mix up your routine with these four categories of exercises—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

Endurance or aerobic activities are good for your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Examples include:

  • Brisk walking or jogging
  • Yard work (mowing, raking)
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Climbing stairs or hiking
  • Playing tennis or basketball

Strength exercises make your muscles stronger, which helps with balance and prevents falls. Examples include:

  • Lifting weights – don’t have small dumbells?  Use a couple of cans from the food pantry!
  • Using resistance bands
  • Carrying groceries
  • Gripping a tennis ball
  • Overhead arm curls
  • Wall push-ups

Balance exercises also help prevent falls. Examples include:

  • Tai Chi
  • Standing on one foot
  • Heal-to-toe walk
  • Balance walk
  • Standing from a seated position

Many lower-body strength exercises also fall into the balance category.

Flexibility exercises will help you move about more freely. Examples include:

  • Back stretch
  • Inner thigh stretch
  • Ankle stretches
  • Back of leg stretch

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • Before starting any exercise or physical activity, talk to your doctor.
  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise/activity a week. That may sound like a lot, but you can break it down. An example could be 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week.
  • Include exercises from the four types explained above.
  • Start slow, especially if you’ve not been active or exercised previously. Build up your stamina and strength before increasing your efforts.
  • It is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after any exercise.
  • Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your activity.

Now that you have an idea of how to get started, consider writing down your short-term goals. This can be a great way to keep you on track and stay motivated. Make sure your goals are realistic and important to you. Some examples of short-term goals can be:

  • By the end of the week, I will ask a friend to join me in exercising a couple of times a week.
  • In the next week, I will make sure to have shoes and comfortable clothes to walk.
  • On Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, I will walk 10 minutes around my neighborhood.

Getting started doesn’t have to be scary. Don’t forget about your SilverSneakers benefit! With SilverSneakers you have access to many fitness facilities in addition to live and on-demand classes online. Check out more information here.

If you’ve started to exercise and need some motivation, here are a few tips.

  1. Convenience is key. Find ways to fit exercise into your day, like walking the dog or watering your garden.
  2. Have fun! You’re more likely to stick with physical activities that you enjoy, like bike riding, swimming, and gardening.
  3. Get social. Having someone to do the activities with you is a great motivator. Participating in Living Plus or SilverSneakers virtual workouts are another great way to mix social and exercise—and both are free to HealthTeam Advantage members.  Find virtual exercise buddies to help keep you going!
  4. Don’t quit. Even if you break your routine or miss a day here and there, the important thing is to get back on track and gradually build back up to your previous level of exercise or activity.
  5. Set goals. Setting goals and tracking your progress is very rewarding. Whether your goal is to walk a mile a day, swim five laps or run a marathon, set a goal.  And- reward yourself for your efforts!

There are also exercises people over 60 should avoid.

  • Leg press
  • Crunches
  • Running (unless you’ve been running or are an experienced runner)
  • Upright row
  • Chest press
  • Overhead press
  • Deadlift

SilverSneakers recommends these exercises instead:

  • Walking
  • Squats
  • Pushups
  • Rows and lat pulldowns

Get more details about the seven worst exercises for older adults at SilverSneakers.

Exercise and physical activity are important to your overall physical and mental health. Doing any amount of exercise is better than none at all.

Sources: National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SilverSneakers

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