It’s common to hear people say they feel overwhelmed by the idea of being physically active, and that they have no idea where to start. That sense of pressure can be discouraging and cause many people to postpone making positive changes in their behavior.
The unfortunate truth is that physical inactivity takes a significant toll on older adults in America. Rates of inactivity increased 6% to more than 31% nationwide among adults age 65 and older who were in average health between 2018 and 2021. That number has continued to climb in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to America’s Health Rankings Senior Report.
Physical inactivity contributes to many chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes — all of which can reduce a person’s mobility, independence and quality of life.
The good news is getting active doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming or expensive. In fact, almost everyone can take steps to work more activity into their daily lives, even from the comfort of home. The benefits are clear — even as little as five minutes of activity every day can make a difference. Physical activity can help improve your brain health, manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.
Regular exercise can also help you feel better and build relationships. In fact, recent research from AARP Services Inc., UnitedHealthcare and OptumLabs showed moderate or high physical activity helps reduce severe loneliness and social isolation by 15% to 30%, and also helps increase feelings of resilience and purpose and improve people’s perception of aging.
Here are five tips to help you become more physically active and put yourself on the road to better health and quality of life:
- Start small. Remember the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? That goes for starting a new exercise regimen, as well as for building strength and stamina. It’s OK to start with just a few minutes at first, and then build gradually — from five, 10 or 15 minutes of movement to eventually 30 or more.
- Make a plan. Most new routines require some level of preparation. Decide what activity you would like to do — whether it’s walking, following an exercise video at home or taking a fitness class — and plan a regular routine, so it’s easier to follow through.
- Get comfortable. Choose clothing that’s easy to move in and is appropriate for the environment. If an activity requires lots of extra gear, equipment or skills, consider choosing something you can do with what you have. The important thing is to get moving!
- Find a buddy. Exercising with a friend can be fun and rewarding. It’s a great way to socialize and build friendships and can also be a strong motivator or cause for celebration when you meet your shared goals.
- Check out resources that may be available to you. Many Medicare Advantage health plans offer benefits like free gym memberships. Talk to your health plan to see what’s available to you.
For more information about UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans, visit www.UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of a doctor. Consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program or making changes to your lifestyle or health care routine.