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How Older Adults Can Get Started With Exercising

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Maintaining an active lifestyle becomes increasingly important as we age, and regular exercise is an effective way to achieve this. The benefits exercise can provide range from improved cardiovascular health and enhanced mobility to reduced risk of chronic diseases and enhanced mental well-being.

However, getting started with exercise can be daunting, especially for those who have been inactive or are managing age-related health concerns. Fortunately, some numerous gentle exercises and strategies can help you embark on your fitness journey and reap the rewards of an active lifestyle.

Why Exercise Matters

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination – all of which play a vital role in supporting independent living and reducing the risk of falls and injuries. Exercise can help manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis; and improve mood, cognitive function, and overall quality of life. By incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine, you can enjoy greater independence and longevity as you age.

Gentle Exercises to Get Started:


Walking is one of the simplest and most accessible forms of exercise for older adults. Start with short walks around your neighbourhood or local park, gradually increasing duration and intensity as your fitness improves. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of walking most days of the week. This doesn’t need to be one 30-minute block, though – a couple of shorter strolls at different times can help to break up your day, whilst contributing to your overall daily activity.

Strength Training

Incorporating strength training exercises into your routine can help maintain muscle mass, bone density, and functional strength. Try starting with light resistance exercises using resistance bands, hand weights, or even try taking a couple of tins of beans from the cupboard to lift in each hand! If you’re feeling a bit more limbered up, try bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, and push-ups. Aim for two to three sessions per week, focusing on all major muscle groups.

Tai Chi & Yoga

More gentle exercises are good for the mind as well as the body. Whilst Yoga has become a common exercise for many, Tai Chi is also growing in popularity amongst older people. A gentle form of mind and body exercise, it combines flowing movements with deep breathing and mindfulness techniques. It can improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination while reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Consider taking a regular Yoga or Tai Chi class at your local gym or community centre. You can also follow along with instructional videos online if you prefer to stay at home.

Swimming or Water Aerobics

Water-based exercises are ideal for older adults as they provide a low-impact way to improve areas like your cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility. Your swimming speed doesn’t need to be Olympic-level! Doing some gentle lengths of your local swimming pool can be a good, low-intensity activity in the water. Or if you prefer something a little less strenuous, perhaps try participating in water aerobics classes, or even simply walking or jogging in the shallow end.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

The amount of exercise needed varies depending on things like your overall health, fitness levels, and personal goals. However, older adults should aim for a combination of aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises to achieve comprehensive fitness benefits. It is recommended that adults aged 65 and above engage in at least 150 minutes – that’s 2½ hours – of moderate-intensity physical activity over the course of a week. This can be as simple as doing activities such as brisk walking and muscle-strengthening exercises a few times times per week. Additionally, incorporating balance and flexibility exercises can help you maintain good levels of mobility and reduce the risk of falls.

Getting Started Safely

Before starting any new exercise routine, it’s essential to start slowly. Listen to your body – don’t force yourself to work too hard – and only gradually increase intensity and duration as your fitness improves. Remember to stay hydrated, wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and always warm up and cool down before and after exercise sessions.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, consider consulting with your doctor or a care professional beforehand, so you can receive guidance on suitable exercises. They may also help to highlight any safety precautions and modifications to consider in order to accommodate your individual needs.

In conclusion, exercise is a valuable investment in health and wellness for older adults. By incorporating gentle exercises into your routine and prioritising regular activities, you can enjoy improved physical and mental well-being, enhanced quality of life, and greater independence as you age. Start small, stay consistent, and celebrate the progress you make along the way and you’ll be heading towards a healthier, happier life before you know it.