Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity on most or all days of the week. Moderately intense activities, like brisk walking or dancing, speed up your heart rate and breathing. Getting 150 total minutes spread over the week is suggested. But even 60 total minutes a week of activity that is moderately intense may bring you health benefits.
Start with 10
Fitting in physical activity is not as hard as you may think. You don’t have to do the whole 30 minutes at one time. Start with a 10-minute session three times a day, then move to 15 minutes twice a day.
Strengthen your muscles
Also try to do activities to strengthen your muscles at least two times a week. If you have weights or a rubber exercise band, they are good options to use. You can also lift canned food as weights for strengthening your arms and back. These activities are important because older adults—especially women—tend to lose muscle and bone every year. Activities to strengthen your muscles may help prevent or reduce this loss.
Battle your barriers
Several reasons may occur to you about why you find being physically active difficult. If some of the thoughts below sound familiar to you, try the tips after each comment to overcome things that may keep you from being active.
“It’s too late for me to get physically active.”
It is never too late to start moving more! Physical activity may help you manage your arthritis and osteoporosis (bone loss). Being more active may also help you do the following:
- Keep your body flexible.
- Help you to improve your balance.
- Control high blood sugar, especially if you lose weight.
- Let you keep living in your own home without help.
“Physical activity is a chore.”
- Physical activity can be fun once you figure out what you like to do. The more enjoyable it is, the more likely you are to stick with it. Walk or take an exercise class with a friend or a group. That way, you can cheer each other on, have company, and feel safer when you are outdoors.
- Start a small garden in your yard or in a community space.
- Break physical activity into short blocks of time. Taking three 10-minute walks during your day may be easier than taking one 30-minute walk.
- Vary what you do from day to day so you can stay interested.
- You may not like being active outdoors because of safety concerns. If this is true for you, join your local recreation or fitness center or go to a relative’s neighborhood to walk.
“I spend time and money on my hair and don’t want to mess it up.”
- Talk with your stylist about hairstyles that fit your budget and your activity level.
- Try a natural hairstyle.
- Wrap or pull hair away from your face when you exercise.
- Get a short or easy-care hairstyle.
- Try braids, twists, weaves, or locs.
- To remove salt that builds up in hair from day-to-day activities, shampoo with a mild, PH-balanced product at least once a week.
“It’s too expensive.”
There are lots of ways to be physically active that are free or low cost.
- Find a local park or school track where you can walk.
- Walk around a mall.
- Be active with your grandchildren— take a walk, toss a softball, or ride bikes (don’t forget the helmets).
“I don’t have enough time.”
No matter how busy you are, there are ways to fit in 30 minutes or more of physical activity each day:
- Spread exercise throughout the day, rather than doing it all at once.
- Set aside time to be active. For instance, make it part of your daily routine to walk after breakfast or dinner.
- Get up and move. Take breaks from sitting at the computer or watching TV.
- If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, walk around the block when you take your break. Send computer files to the printer farthest from your desk so you can move around a little more.
“I’m not an athlete, so why strength train?”
Activities to build strength are good for everyone, including older adults. For example, lifting weights may help protect your bones. Strength training may also help you perform your daily activities with more ease. In addition to weight lifting, there are many ways to become stronger.
- Use canned foods or filled water bottles as weights to work your arms, shoulders, and back.
- If you are able to, walk up stairs—lifting your body weight strengthens your legs and hips.