How to Start Exercising and Stay Motivated No Matter Your Age
It doesn't matter how old or physically fit you are; it's never too late to start working out. Physical activity helps you feel younger, stronger, more confident, and stay independent. It also lowers the risk of developing health issues such as dementia, Alzheimer's, heart disease, certain cancers, blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. And the good news is that exercise can boost your mood, allowing you to feel as great at 70 or 80 as you did when you were much younger. Although many people tend to slow down as they get older due to weight, pain, or health problems, that's precisely when an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever.
Physical health benefits of exercising at any age
- Helps you maintain or lose weight
Metabolism slows with age, but exercise helps boost your metabolism and builds muscles, helping you burn more calories.
- Reduces the risk of illness and affects chronic disease
Exercise strengthens your immune and digestive system and improves bone density and blood pressure. With improved immunity and stronger systems, your risk of developing illnesses decreases.
- Improves mobility, balance, and flexibility
Exercise boosts your strength and posture, which can reduce the risk of falls. Strength training also helps lessen or eliminate the symptoms associated with chronic conditions like arthritis.
Mental health benefits
- Improves sleep
Sleep is essential for your general health. Physical activity can help you fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling more refreshed.
- Improves mood and self-esteem
Exercise relieves stress, and the endorphins can actually help prevent depression. Being active and feeling stronger also makes you feel more confident.
- Improves brain function
It can help prevent memory loss, dementia, and even help slow the development of brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Overcoming obstacles to getting active
Getting regular exercise can be challenging at any age—and it certainly doesn't get easier over the years. Exercise doesn't have to involve boring workouts at the gym. Try to add more movement and activity in small ways to your everyday life. Think about how you can incorporate the activities you enjoy into your exercise routine:
- listen to an audiobook while you're lifting weights
- play tennis
- window shop at the local mall
- go for a hike and take pictures
- walk your dog
- find a workout buddy
- try activities like Senior sports or fitness classes, water aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong.
Get started safely
- Get permission from your doctor, and consider health concerns, especially if you have a medical condition.
- Listen to your body. Exercise should never hurt. If at any point, you feel a sharp pain, stop exercising and contact your doctor immediately, especially if you also feel dizzy or short of breath or experience any chest pain or pressure.
- Start small and build up slowly. Try separating workouts in ten-minute sessions twice a day, or one class every week. If you're worried about falling or have a heart condition, start with something easy like chair exercises and slowly increase your fitness.
- Prevent injury with a good warm up and cool down. Keep your water handy.
- Commit to a schedule for at least 3 or 4 weeks until it becomes a habit and stick with it.
How to stay motivated
- Focus on short-term goals like increasing your energy or improving your mood instead of long term goals such as weight loss.
- Keep a journal. Writing down your activities in a journal helps you stay accountable, and it serves as a reminder of your accomplishments.
- Reward yourself when you successfully complete a session or reach a new fitness goal. Find something to look forward to, such as a hot bath or a cup of coffee.
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