With more and more people living longer active and healthier lives, we are seeing an increasing awareness of the benefits of exercise for over 65s. Regular activity and exercising in social group settings may just be the fountain of youth that we need to stay younger, slow down and even reverse the effects of aging on our bodies and mind. Short and light workouts, often each week can have remarkable side effects, including...

  • Increased energy levels throughout the day.
  • Improved sleep quality and duration.
  • Functional strength gains for daily living.
  • Increased endurance for sustained activities from yard work to traveling.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Weight loss
  • Ease the symptoms and even reverse the effects of long term illnesses such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, and even some forms of Arthritis.
  • Improve memory.
  • Improve moods.
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Reduced risk of falling due to improved balance, reaction and coordination.
  • Improved chances of coming away from a fall injury free or with less serious complications.

This list can go on and on so basically exercising can make you feel great and offer you a more independent lifestyle for longer. It can also be fun, especially if you exercise with some like minded friends or as part of a class such as SilverSneakers®.

I have never exercised before. Is it too late to start now?

Absolutely not.

There are very few people over the age of 65 that would not benefit from some form of increased activity, even those with chronic disease. The key is to find the right activity and the right intensity. It is always advisable to get your doctors clearance and to ask for advice or take a class with a certified experienced trainer. Choosing to begin is always a tough decision. It can be discouraging having limitations set by an illness or finding yourself gasping for breath after moving from couch to kitchen or up the stairs. When we do not know where to begin it is easier convince ourselves that it is probably not the best idea for me at this time.

So where do I begin?

A good place to start is to find some comfortable clothing to wear. It doesn't need to be expensive or sports wear but it should be easy to move in, non restricting and not get too warm midway through exercise. Layers are a great way of maintaining comfort, zipping down and peeling off as the warm up moves into main workout and then putting them back on for the cool down and post workout. Footwear is perhaps the most important item required. They should fit correctly and offer good support, and cushioning. Comfort is important, as is a snug fit so the foot is not sliding around inside, and not too tight at any point, both of which will result in blisters.

Next is to choose exercises appropriate to your fitness and activity levels. Exercise is an increased workload on the body. If this work load is increased gradually, the body responds by adapting, getting stronger and better able to perform that workload. Once the work becomes easier it is time to challenge the muscles with another increase in the workload. If you are currently inactive this workload may be repeating a slow sit down in to a chair, or taking a stairs instead of an escalator, gradually increasing the distance that you park your car from where you need to go. If you are currently active you will need to do more to find a challenge.  Walking is a great exercise for all levels. Choose a distance and terrain that makes breathing a little faster and conversation a little more difficult.  High intensity exercise is not necessary, nor recommended, to get most of the health benefits of exercising.


An inspiring and fun group at Wednesday morning  SilverSneakers ® class.

An inspiring and fun group at Wednesday morning SilverSneakers® class.

Click here to see if you or a loved one is eligible for FREE membership at Damien Roche Fitness Center. Over 12 million people nationwide qualify for FREE gym memberships. We are 1 of 13,000 participating facilities across the country which provide gym membership through some health insurances.  If you are eligible, you can probably also find a location near your vacation destinations or seasonal homes.

In Part II...

What other exercises can I do?

Should I call my Doctor ?

SilverSneakers explained in more detail and

Exercise and the elderly myths explained.