A Beginner's Guide to Exercise

​​​​​​​​​No matter what your age, exercise and physical activity are good for you. Healthy activity has many benefits for seniors, including improving your weight, strength, energy, mood and balance. It can also prevent or delay illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and osteoporosis.

There are all kinds of ways to fit physical activity into your daily routine—and it doesn’t have to involve going to a gym or buying special workout clothes.

​Dancing, a brisk walk, climbing stairs, yard work and even housework are just a few examples of activities that keep you moving. (Who would have thought that vacuuming was actually good for you?)

The 4 types of exercise

To get the maximum benefit of physical activity, you should try four types of exercise:

  • Endurance – Try to build up to at least 30 minutes of activity each day that makes you breathe hard. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes all at once—10 minutes at a time, three times a day works, too.

  • Strength – Pick exercises that challenge your muscles. Healthy muscles will help you stay independent longer and reduce your risk of falling.

  • Balance – Stay steady on your feet. Simple exercises getting up from a chair without using your hands or walking heel-to-toe can help you improve your balance.

  • ​Stretch – Improving your flexibility will help with many of your daily routines, from tying your shoes to looking over your shoulder when you drive. Note: Don’t stretch so far that it hurts.

Before you start exercising

If you haven’t exercised in a long time, start slowly. If you are over 50 and aren’t used to energetic activity, check with your doctor first.

You should also contact your doctor if you have problems with any of the following: 

  • dizziness or shortness of breath
  • chest pain or pressure
  • a feeling that your heart is skipping, racing or fluttering
  • blood clots
  • an infection or fever with muscle aches
  • unplanned weight loss
  • foot or ankle sores that won’t heal
  • joint swelling
  • a hernia
  • recent hip or back surgery​
​Learn​ more about the benefits of exercise.