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How to start exercising

Have you heard you should be exercising, but you aren’t sure where to begin? You are not alone. Many seniors don't exercise for the same reason that people of all ages resist physical activity – they think of it as too hard, too boring, or they are disappointed by the lack of immediate results. On top of this, some older adults have additional challenges, such as chronic health conditions or concerns about injury or falls.

But the evidence is clear: exercise benefits people of all ages. In fact, studies show that not only is exercise safe for seniors, but it has enormous health advantages. Exercise can help you maintain your health and independence throughout your life. Regular exercise and senior fitness is the key to greater energy, stronger muscles, better balance and flexibility, and a happy and alert mind.

It doesn’t matter how old you are! People in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and even nineties can reap the benefits of exercise.

Starting a senior fitness and exercise plan

Often the hardest part of exercise is getting started. The following tips will help you get on your way safely while having fun:

  • Get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting condition. Your doctor may be able to guide you to community resources for specific conditions as well. If something feels wrong, such as sharp pain or unusual shortness of breath, stop doing it. You may need to scale back or try another activity.
     
  • Start slow. Remember, if you try to build in a complicated exercise routine, you might get burned out and frustrated before you even begin. You might just want to start with ten minutes a couple of times a day, or take a class once a week to start. Let exercise become a habit, and then you can slowly start building up your time and vary your exercise routine. Remember to drink plenty of water and gently stretch.
     
  • Get support. It can be easier doing something new if others are there to support you. Consider taking a class or exercising with a buddy- it can be easier to stay motivated if there is a set time to exercise and you are able to socialize with others as well.
     
  • Enjoy yourself. If you are dreading your exercise or find it too hard or boring, sooner or later you will find a way to talk yourself out of it. If you feel this way, take a look at what you are doing. Is it time to try a new activity?

Exercise is a lifelong commitment to better health -- the more you exercise, the more you will reap the benefits.

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