Exercise is good for everyone, especially seniors who aren’t particularly active and haven’t exercised in years and older adults with a medical condition. Being active — whether walking the dog, practicing tai chi or lifting weights — releases mood-boosting endorphins, which can help lessen feelings of depression; improves both strength and mobility; slows the process of mental decline; and often provides a healthy social life.
May kicks off National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, a great time to spread the word about the benefits of getting active. If you want to promote physical fitness in your community:
- Encourage community groups and families to support physical activity programs for kids;
- Host an information night featuring community members who have increased
their physical activity, and ask people to share their stories and tips for success; or
- Motivate others to increase their physical activity and healthy eating habits by
joining the Presidential Active Lifestyle Aware (PALA+) program.
If you find it hard to make yourself be active, it helps to choose activities that are fun and interesting. The “best” exercise or physical activity is the type you will actually do, and the only goal needs to be that you get moving.
For example, working outside in the garden involves bending and lifting, moving and stretching, and digging and hauling. When you’re lifting a bag of mulch, transplanting seedlings, raking leaves or pulling weeds, you’re also improving your endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs recommends these VA programs or evidence-based exercise programs for older people that are offered in communities across the U.S.
The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease Program reduces the pain of arthritis and improves overall health. Complete the program on your own, or get support in a group setting. Classes are taught by an Arthritis Foundation-certified leader in cities all over the country.
Gerofit is a supervised exercise program developed for older veterans that improves their health, physical function and well-being. Veterans are given a personal exercise program based on their physical profile and goals, and individual and group-based exercises could include tai chi, line dancing and strengthening classes. Gerofit is available at several VA Medical Centers.
The MOVE! Weight Management Program is designed to help veterans lose weight, keep it off and improve their health. Options include MOVE! group sessions, TeleMOVE! telephone lifestyle coaching and the MOVE! Coach mobile app.
SilverSneakers is a free fitness program for seniors that includes unlimited access to more than 13,000 participating gyms and fitness centers in the network. In addition to weights, treadmills and pools, seniors can participate in fitness classes for all abilities.