Healthy Aging - Physical Vitality
Physical activity builds physical
vitality. With every year of your life, you have more to gain from being
What are the benefits of being physically active?
On a daily basis, being physically active improves your quality of life
by improving your:
- Energy level.
- Mood (regular aerobic exercise can help manage
depression, anxiety, and stress).
- Balance, strength, and
flexibility, which are key to preventing injuries and falls.
against chronic illness. Physical activity also often helps manage chronic
illness with fewer medicines.
As you get older, an inactive lifestyle increases your
risk of chronic disease. Conversely, getting regular aerobic exercise is one of
your best defenses against diseases, such as:
If you already have a chronic disease, becoming
physically active may reduce your need for medicine to treat or control
I'm not physically active right now—how do I start?
If you've been inactive for awhile, you don't necessarily have to set
your sights on becoming athletic—your first
goal is to simply start moving more each day. Before
you do, though, get off to a smart start by seeing your doctor for a full
physical examination. Then you can follow his or her recommendations as well as
these guidelines for becoming more physically active.
- Add more movement to your daily routine. For
example, put away the TV remote control, park farther from building entrances
or at the opposite side of the parking lot from where you're going, and take
stairs instead of elevators. Walk a lap or two around your house or apartment,
then down the street or around a nearby park. Buy a pedometer and gradually
increase the number of steps you take each day.
- Start with small,
short-term goals. It's easiest to keep doing something new when you have early,
frequent successes. For example, make a plan to walk for 10 minutes a day, 3
days a week, for 2 weeks.
- Buddy up with a friend. There's no
better way to stay on track with physical activity than with a buddy you look
forward to seeing, who also counts on you (especially on days when you could
easily find an excuse not to be physically active).
- Change the way
you think about yourself—start thinking, dressing, and eating like the active,
vital person you plan to be.
- Make physical fitness a habit with such simple tasks as writing physical activity into your
- Fitness: Making It a Habit
- Quick Tips: Getting Active at Home
- Quick Tips: Having Enough Energy to Stay Active
- Fitness: Walking for Wellness
- Fitness: Using a Pedometer or Step Counter
After a few weeks of regular physical activity, you will
probably feel better than before. When you're ready for more, add some variety
to your activity schedule with new ways to build flexibility, aerobic fitness,
and muscle strength. Experts say to do either of these things to get and stay
- Moderate activity for at least 2½ hours
a week. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a
week. Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or
ballroom dancing. But any activities—including daily chores—that raise your
heart rate can be included. You notice your heart
beating faster with this kind of activity.
- Vigorous activity for at least 1¼ hours a week. One way to do this is to be
active 25 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week. Vigorous activity means things
like jogging, cycling fast, or cross-country skiing. You breathe rapidly and
your heart beats much faster with this kind of activity.