You may need to be more active than others to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Activities that help improve cardiorespiratory endurance are those that cause an elevated heart rate for a sustained period of time. Being physically fit depends on how well a person fulfills each of the components of being healthy. Starting a fitness program is an important decision, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can make fitness a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime. If you’re concerned about fall risk, balance exercises for seniors can be done holding onto a chair or doorframe.
Experts have designed specific exercises for seniors that are low-impact, safe and able to be done even from a sitting position if necessary. The organization also offers continuing education workshops for personal trainers, on topics ranging from nutrition to weight loss to behavior change skills. One positive outcome of the pandemic is that there are now so many more online resources for exercise programs, says Smith-Ryan.
Break a sitting streak
Breaking up sedentary time with light activity can help reduce health risks while netting you stronger muscles and burning calories. Light walking is a great place to start—and a great habit to incorporate into your life. Walk with a loved one or just by yourself while listening to an audio book. Set goals every day and meet them and you’ll start feeling like you’re back in control of your life. If you’ve never set foot in a gym, that’s okay—as long as you start doing something now. If you haven’t been very active or are worried about your health, it’s important to consult your doctor and start slowly.
The repairing or healing of that stress is how you get stronger (and fitter). But you need to give the body adequate rest after a workout for that recovery process to happen. That said, it’s also important to know that there are many different ways to be fit (think of a ballet dancer versus a bodybuilder or a sprinter versus a gymnast). And fitness does not have a singular “look.” In fact, appearance can’t necessarily tell you about someone’s habits, whether they’re actually physically active, or even whether they’re fit at all. She can probably run a long distance without tiring; thus she has good fitness in at least one area of health-related physical fitness. Running is an excellent form of physical activity, but being a runner doesn’t guarantee fitness in all parts of health-related physical fitness.
“The one thing that will help prevent almost any type of disease is fitness,” says Grayson Wickham, DPT, CSCS, founder of Movement Vault, a mobility and movement company in New York City. And the guidelines do recommend that older adults incorporate balance training into their weekly fitness routine. Evidence suggests that regular exercise that includes balance training can significantly reduce older adults’ risk of falls, which can cause serious and debilitating injuries, among other consequences. Regardless of what you do, regular exercise and physical activity is the path to health and well-being. Exercise burns fat, builds muscle, lowers cholesterol, eases stress and anxiety, lets us sleep restfully.
Like the runner, you may be more fit in some parts of fitness than in others. Jesselynn Chuan named The Six Parts of Health-Related Fitness describes each part and shows an example. As you read about each part, ask yourself how fit you think you are in that area. People vary greatly in how much physical activity they need for weight management.
Both eating patterns and physical activity routines play a critical role in weight management. You gain weight when you consume more calories through eating and drinking than the amount of calories you burn, including those burned during physical activity. The important message is that embarking on any regular exercise will be of benefit to a person’s health. Endurance training, on the other hand, does not necessarily generate muscles of a larger size. When you’re designing your personal fitness program, consider your fitness goals. Think about your fitness likes and dislikes, and note your personal barriers to fitness.
The ACSM is a professional society that certifies personal trainers and sports medicine specialists around the globe. The organization publishes evidence-based position stands about key fitness and sports medicine topics. It also publishes scholarly journals with leading research in the field. Additionally, do muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week, targeting all of the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms), according to the guidelines. It’s worth noting, however, that high-intensity exercise done too close to bedtime (within about an hour or two) can make it more difficult for some people to sleep and should be done earlier in the day.
Aerobic exercise is the foundation of every fitness program — and for good reason. Also called cardiovascular exercise or cardio, this type of physical activity increases your heart rate and breathing rate, which improves your cardiorespiratory fitness, according to the American Heart Association. Improved fitness drastically reduces the risk of chronic diseases that develop over time, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.