Increase Physical Activity to Improve Your Health

More exercise can make it easier to perform everyday activities

You’ve made a commitment to be more physically active, and recently you’ve noticed that bags of groceries seem lighter, that stairs are easier to climb and that a brisk walk in the morning is much easier now.

Your body is telling you, “I’m ready for more.” 

It’s time to challenge yourself and maybe even consider new activities.

Whether you’re in your 50s, 60s or even your 80s, increasing your physical activity will improve your health and your ability to do everyday activities. There are a number of ways to progress.

  • Endurance. When you’re ready to do more, build up the amount of time you spend doing endurance activities first, then build up the difficulty of your activities. For example, gradually increase your time over several days to weeks (or even months, depending on your condition).
  • Strength. Muscle strength is progressive over time. Gradually increase the amount of weight you use to build strength. When you can do 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of an exercise easily, increase the amount of weight at your next session. Keep repeating until you reach your goal, and then maintain that level as long as you can.
  • Balance. Exercises can improve your balance even more if you modify them as you progress.  Start by holding on to a sturdy chair for support. To challenge yourself, try holding on to the chair with only one hand. With time, you can try holding on with only one finger, then no hands.
  • Flexibility. You can progress in your stretching exercises. For example, as you become more flexible, try reaching farther, but not so far that it hurts.

This material is provided by Go4Life, the exercise and physical activity campaign for adults over 50 from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.

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