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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Healthy Aging - Physical Vitality

I'm not physically active right now-how do I start? continued...

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 healthy:1

  • 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.

It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. You can choose to do one or both types of activity.

If you are just starting a fitness program or if you are age 65 or older, talk to your doctor about how often is safe for you to be physically active.

  • Flexibility is increasingly important as age-related stiffness becomes a normal part of your daily life. A regular stretching or yoga routine can greatly improve your ease of movement. To help prevent injury, it's important to stretch before and after any activity that uses your joints and muscles for more than a few minutes.
  • Aerobic fitness conditions your heart and lungs. Aerobic (oxygen-using) exercise is any activity that gets your heart pumping faster than when you're at rest, circulating more oxygen-carrying blood throughout your body. All kinds of daily activities can be aerobic, ranging from housecleaning, yard work, or pushing a child on a swing to walking, bicycling, or playing tennis.
  • Muscle fitness includes building more powerful muscles and increasing how long you can use them (endurance). Weight lifting builds stronger muscles and strengthens bones. No matter what your age and whether you've done it before, you can gain great benefit from strength training. As you age, muscle fitness plays an increasingly important part in staying at a healthy weight, because muscle is the primary cell type that uses calories. Muscle fitness is also key to improving or preventing balance problems, falls, and therefore bone fractures. Try to do exercises to strengthen muscles at least two times each week.1 Examples include weight training or stair climbing on two or more days that are not in a row. For best results, use a resistance (weight) that gives you muscle fatigue after 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Quick Tips: Improving Your Balance.
Fitness: Getting and Staying Active
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