As these winter days grow darker and colder, keeping your body in good physical shape gets harder and harder. A very popular New Year’s resolution for many people of all ages is becoming more physically fit. As our bodies age it is just as important to stay active as it was when we were younger, if not more so.

Why is exercise so important? There are many reasons but here are few:

  • Exercise can help maintain and improve your physical strength and fitness.

  • Exercise can help improve your ability to do the everyday things you want to do.

  • Exercise can help improve your balance which prevents falls.

  • Exercise can help manage and improve diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

  • Exercise can help reduce feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall well-being.

  • Exercise may improve your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity and ignore irrelevant information.

  • Exercise can be fun!

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And now comes the question of how to exercise as an older adult. First and foremost, you want to make sure that you’re being safe. Go through these steps and you should be in a good place to begin your physical activity regimen:

  • Get medical clearance from your doctor.

  • Consider your unique health concerns (like joint or heart problems) and adjust your workout accordingly.

  • Start slow.

  • Listen to your body and stop if you feel dizzy, short of breath or are in pain.

With safety concerns and clearance behind you, you are ready to get your physical activity plan in place. Some may believe there aren’t many exercise options for older adults, but that is a myth. There are a lot of great ways to get your body moving and work on endurance, strength, balance and flexibility! So where do you start?

  • Check out your local YMCA, community center or fitness centers in your area for fitness classes. Silver Sneakers is a national program that holds classes within fitness centers specifically for active older adults.

  • Join Go4Life, an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH. This program is designed to help you fit physical activity into your daily life. Their website is full of exercise regimens, advice for eating, programs to follow and lots of relevant information on staying fit.

  • Join a fitness center and have a personal trainer help you create a workout plan. It is important to make sure you are doing exercise that fits your body type, age and well-being, so ask a trainer for help if you need it. Fitness centers often have pools within them, which is a great way to do low-impact exercise.

  • Grab a friend and get walking! The easiest way to incorporate exercise into your life is to go on a walk, but walks are much more enjoyable with a friend. Ask a family member or close friend if they want to take a walk around the mall, block or neighborhood next time you see them.

What other ways do you stay active?