No matter your age or fitness level, experts agree that physical activity brings multiple benefits to your mind and body. If you wonder how being more active as you get older can help you live a happier, healthier life — and how to get started — taking small, simple steps to boost your activity level can make a big impact.
“Age is just a number, and we’ll make sure it never slows you down, so why not begin the new year on the right foot by finding activities you love to do,” said Julie Logue, M.P.H., training manager at SilverSneakers. “You can ‘act your age’ by having the time of your life, whether you’re dancing, walking or playing pickleball with friends.”
Remember, before starting any new exercise, it’s recommended to consult your health care provider.
Here are a few benefits of exercise that may inspire you to move a little more.
1. Protect your bones and joints
Stronger muscles help protect your bones and joints as you age. But if you think lifting heavy weights is the only way to strengthen your muscles, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. If you haven’t been active, you can begin strength exercises by starting slowly, using little to no special equipment, and gradually improving your strength over time.
It’s best to seek classes or programs specifically designed for seniors, such as SilverSneakers by Tivity Health — the nation’s leading fitness program for older adults that offers in-person and virtual classes with the needs of seniors in mind. Seniors can find classes for all levels focused on building strength and flexibility as they age, along with cardio exercises to get their blood pumping.
2. Help prevent falls
About one in four Americans aged 65 and older will fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regular exercise that builds strength and improves balance is one of the best ways to help prevent falls or recover from a fall.
Classes like those offered by SilverSneakers can help strengthen your ankles, knees and hips for a sturdy foundation. Plus, they can help improve your core strength and upper-body posture — to help you stay upright and steady.
3. Learn about injury prevention
Injuries can happen at any age, but a few simple precautions can help to keep you moving injury-free. If you’re a beginner, choose instructors and exercise programs that start slow — even seated — and build your strength and flexibility gradually, so you can continue improving your fitness without risking injury. SilverSneakers even offers virtual classes designed for beginners to help get you started.
4. Enjoy socializing
One valuable benefit of being active is finding a class or community of people you enjoy spending time with. Whether you’re taking classes in person or online, you’ll know everyone else in the class is also aiming to stay more fit and healthy. Taking classes together is a fun bonding activity that will help you stay motivated and may inspire you to create your own group of friends for walking or doing activities together.
5. Improve mindfulness and reduce stress
Physical activity can reduce stress, help you stay more present throughout your day and enjoy your life to the fullest. Classes offered by SilverSneakers include Tai Chi and Yoga, which are easy ways to help you stay more mindful and boost your overall well-being.
SilverSneakers offers members a network of up to 22,000 fitness locations, along with community-based options like community centers and parks. Workouts are offered at thousands of gyms, community centers and other participating fitness locations nationwide.
Members can participate in live, instructor-led and on-demand virtual classes in a variety of lengths and formats. Options include programming for those with chronic conditions, plus healthy aging workshops on topics including fall prevention and virtual learning opportunities.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it may already include SilverSneakers. Learn more at SilverSneakers.com.