You can take steps to stay healthy and independent as you get older. Physical activity is good for people of all ages. Staying active can help:
- Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer
- Improve your strength and balance so you can prevent injuries and stay independent
- Reduce symptoms of depression
- Improve your ability to think, learn, and make decisions
Before you start…
If you have a health problem like heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, talk to your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.
Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.
- If you were not exercising before, start slowly. Begin with 10 minutes of aerobic activity and gradually build up to doing 30 minutes at a time.
- Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week.
- Choose aerobic activities – activities that make your heart beat faster – like walking fast, dancing, swimming, or raking leaves.
- Tell your doctor if you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or unplanned weight loss.
Do strengthening activities 2 days a week.
- Try using exercise bands or lifting hand weights. You can also use bottles of water or cans of food as weights.
- Breathe out as you lift the weight, and breathe in as you lower it. Don’t hold your breath – holding your breath can cause unsafe changes in your blood pressure.
Do balance activities 3 or more days a week.
- Practice standing on one foot (hold onto a chair if you need to at first).
- Stand up from a sitting position without using your hands.
- Learn tai chi (“ty chee”), a Chinese mind-body exercise that involves moving the body slowly and gently.
- Sign up for a yoga class, or try following a yoga video at home.