Getting Started The Go4Life Way
Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories — endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they're doing enough. Each type is different, though. Doing them all will give you more benefits. Mixing it up also helps to reduce boredom and cut your risk of injury. Though we describe each type separately here, some activities fit into more than one category. For example, many endurance activities also build strength. Strength exercises also help improve balance.
Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. As a result, they delay or prevent many diseases that are common in older adults, such as diabetes and heart disease. Building your endurance makes it easier to carry out many of your everyday activities.
- Brisk walking or jogging
- Yard work (mowing, raking, digging)
- Climbing stairs or hills
- Playing tennis
- Playing basketball
How Much, How Often
Build up your endurance gradually. If you haven't been active for a long time, it's important to work your way up over time. Start out with 10 minutes at a time and then gradually build up.
Try to build up to at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate endurance activity a week. Being active at least three days a week is best. Remember, these are goals. Some people will be able to do more. It's important to set realistic goals based on your own health and abilities. You can manage and track goal progress by using the interactive tools found at Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.Progressing
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 to 30 minutes over several days to weeks by walking longer distances. Then walk more briskly or up steeper hills.
- Do a little light activity to warm up and cool down before and after your endurance activities.
- Be sure to drink plenty of liquids when doing any activity that makes you sweat.
- Dress in layers when exercising outdoors so you can add or remove clothes if you get cold or hot.
- To prevent injuries, be sure to use safety equipment.
- Walk during the day or in well-lit areas at night, and be aware of your surroundings.