Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help
- Control your weight
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Lower your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you're an older adult
- Increase your chances of living longer
Fitting regular exercise into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first. But even ten minutes at a time is fine. The key is to find the right exercise for you. It should be fun and should match your abilities.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source: MedLinePlus (NIH)1
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Like adults, kids need exercise. Most children need at least an hour of physical activity every day. Regular exercise helps children
- Feel less stressed
- Feel better about themselves
- Feel more ready to learn in school
- Keep a healthy weight
- Build and keep healthy bones, muscles and joints
- Sleep better at night
As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time running and playing. Parents should limit TV, video game and computer time. Parents can set a good example by being active themselves. Exercising together can be fun for everyone. Competitive sports can help kids stay fit. Walking or biking to school, dancing, bowling and yoga are some other ways for kids to get exercise.
Source: MedLinePlus (NIH)2
Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. There are four main types and each type is different. Doing them all will give you more benefits.
- Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. Brisk walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, and biking are examples.
- Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. Lifting weights or using a resistance band can build strength.
- Balance exercises help prevent falls
- Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber
NIH: National Institute on Aging
Source: MedLinePlus (NIH)3
We’ve all heard that exercise is good for you. Did you know that it’s as true for older people as it is for any age group? You’re never too old to get moving, get stronger and improve your health.
Experts recommend 4 types of exercise for older adults: endurance, balance, strength and flexibility. Brisk walking, dancing and other endurance exercises improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. These exercises can make it easier for you to mow the lawn, climb stairs and do other daily activities. Strength exercises include lifting weights or using resistance bands. They can increase muscle strength to help with activities such as carrying groceries or lifting grandchildren. Balance exercises can help prevent falls—a major health risk for older adults. Stretching, or flexibility exercises, can give you more freedom of movement for bending to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder as you back out of the driveway.
“Even if you haven’t been active previously, it’s important to get started and stay active,” says Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of NIH’s National Institute on Aging. “We know that people want to live independently for as long as they possibly can. By exercising regularly and including more physical activity in their daily routine, older people can preserve their physical function, which is key to doing the everyday things they want to do.”
To help you get started and keep moving, NIH brought together some of the nation’s leading experts on aging, exercise and motivation. They developed a guide to exercise for older adults. The guide serves as the basis for a new national exercise and physical activity campaign for people ages 50 and older. It’s called Go4Life.
“Older adults can exercise safely, even those who have physical limitations,” Hodes says. “Go4Life is based on studies showing the benefits of exercise and physical activity for older people, including those with chronic health conditions.”
Go4Life exercises are designed to be done safely at home without special equipment or clothing. The free book Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging is the core resource for the campaign. Other free materials, such as an exercise DVD and tip sheets, are also available. Workout to Go, a mini exercise guide, shows you how you can be active anytime, anywhere.
To learn more, visit the Go4Life website. You’ll find exercises, success stories and tips to help you stay motivated. Or call 1-800-222-2225, or e-mail niaic nia.nih.gov.
Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)4
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Exercise: Physical activity which is usually regular and done with the intention of improving or maintaining Physical Fitness or Health. Contrast with Physical Exertion which is concerned largely with the physiologic and metabolic response to energy expenditure.5
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Exercise Therapy: A form of treatment derived from Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) that uses various methods of movement in an effort to enhance physical, mental, and emotional health.6
FAQs about Exercise
Target Exercise Amounts
How much physical activity you need depends on your age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:
- Children ages 6 to 17 years old should get 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This should also include a vigorous-intensity activity (such as running) three days per week, and muscle strengthening (such as gymnastics) three days per week.
- Adults ages 18 and older should get 150 minutes of moderateintensity activity (such as brisk walking), or 75 minutes of vigorousintensity activity (such as running), each week. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening exercises that work all muscle groups two days per week.
Fitting exercise into your daily life may seem tough at first, but according to the CDC, you don't have to do it all at once. In fact, exercising in 10-minute increments can be enough to reap the health benefits.
Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)7
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Tips for Getting Started
If you think fitting in a daily workout is expensive, think again! You don't need a costly gym membership to jumpstart an active lifestyle. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends simply picking an activity you enjoy. Start by listing the activities you would like to do, like walking, joining a sports league, exercising with a video, dancing, biking, or taking a class at a fitness or community center. Then, you can start to plan your workout schedule. For example:
- Set short-term goals that are specific and that you can track. Instead of saying "I'm going to be more active this week," set a goal of walking 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
- Think of the days and times you could do the activity, such as first thing in the morning, during lunch break from work, after dinner, or on Saturday afternoon. Look at your calendar or planner to find the days and times that work best, and commit to those plans.
Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)8
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Keeping Active at Work
When you're looking to add more physical activity to your routine, it's important to practice healthy habits at work, as well as at home. For you, this might mean simply moving more at your workplace. The CDC encourages the following activities to keep you moving at work:
- Print to a different printer. Try printing to a printer located further away from your work area. Consider printing one floor up or down and take the stairs.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Park at a remote parking lot and walk to the office. The further away you park, the more activity you can include in your day.
- Walk and talk. Have a walking meeting or step in place while talking on the phone.
- Start meetings with five to 10 minutes of stretching or activity, or add in stretch or activity time mid-way through long meetings.
- Do 60- to 90-second standing breaks for every hour you sit.
- Keep a set of hand weights by your desk. Use them three or four times a day for muscle strengthening.
In addition, many employers offer weight management programs and on-site fitness programs to encourage and support employees with establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors. These programs can offer even more opportunities for you to engage in healthy workplace activities.
Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)9
Types may include:10
Types of Exercise:
- Aerobic Exercise
- Isokinetic Exercise
- Isometric Exercise
- Isotonic Exercise
- Light Exercise
- Moderate Exercise
- Strenuous Exercise
- Very Light Exercise
Categories for Exercise
Category of Exercise Therapy:
- Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapy
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- Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ exerciseandphysicalfitness.html
- Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ exerciseforchildren.html
- Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ exerciseforseniors.html
- Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ issue/ dec2011/ feature2
- Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
- Source: NCI Thesaurus
- Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ winter16/ articles/ winter16pg8-9.html
- Source: NCI Thesaurus
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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.