25 Best Fitness Tips for Older Adults
The perfect workout for you? It’s the one you’re excited to do. These clever suggestions will keep you motivated, healthy, and strong.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced exerciser, we all can benefit from advice and words of encouragement. Luckily, the SilverSneakers community is a great place to find support. Here are your best fitness tips for getting started, finding new activities, and staying motivated.
1. Open Your Mind, Not Your Wallet
“Find a class or gym you can comfortably attend and pay for. If it hurts you to afford it, there’s always the outdoors, home equipment, and YouTube videos.”—Ajai Blue-Saunders
Does your health plan cover a free SilverSneakers membership that gives you access to gyms and fitness classes? Check your eligibility here.
Eligible? Find a location near you. Not eligible? You can still follow along to our workout videos!
2. Be Kind to Yourself
“For beginners, be patient with yourself. It takes a little time to get your balance and coordination.”—Donna Leverton Colyer
3. Don’t Let Minor Soreness Scare You
“Keep going! You may feel some aches and pains after the first few times. That’s your body saying, ‘Oh, thank you for taking care of me!’ You’ll be surprised how soon you have more flexibility, strength, and endurance.”—Nancy Robins
Not sure if your workout is working? Check out these five signs of a great workout.
4. But Do Listen to Your Body
“Modify the range of movement when it hurts. My range of movement has increased without injury by listening [to my body]. Pain is not gain.”—Virginia C. Older
Let class instructors know if you have any injuries or challenges so they can modify moves for you. Exercising on your own? Here’s how you can make exercises easier and safer.
5. Choose the Right Gear for Your Needs
“I wear fitness gloves when using dumbbells and bands. Otherwise, my hands hurt too much.”—Connie Wallner Peterson
6. Remember, It’s Not a Competition
“Don’t compare yourself to other members in the class. Go at your own pace.”—Sue Clancy
7. Build a Healthy Habit
“Make exercise part of your routine: brushing your teeth, taking a shower, combing your hair, going to class.”—Karen Gritzmacher
8. Use a Calendar to Plan Your Workouts
“I put all my fitness classes on my calendar so they are as important as birthday reminders and doctor’s appointments.”—Claire Hughes
9. And to Reward Yourself
“I put a sticker on my calendar for every hour I exercise. I really like the glitter ones. I just love to see them add up as the month goes by. I’m always trying to see how many days in a row I can go.”—Christian LaLumia
10. Focus on Good Form
“Be as present as you can in class. Make sure all of your movements are deliberate, with proper form and technique.”—Tina Lankarge
11. Keep Challenging Yourself
“Try to work up to heavier weights. Muscle weakness is a huge problem as we age.”—Linda Peterson Leister
Here’s how to find your perfect weight for strength training.
12. Strengthen Both Sides of Your Body
“If you have to start on your right or left side [for an exercise], start on your weaker side.”—Blanca Cole
13. Embrace the Unfamiliar
“Do a variety of classes and use some of the gym equipment, such as the elliptical machine, treadmill, and whatever you feel comfortable using.”—Rose Stites
Intimated by gym equipment? Conquer your fear with these videos and step-by-step guides:
- Beginner’s Guide to the Treadmill: Walk for overall conditioning
- Beginner’s Guide to the Recumbent Bike: Try a low-impact cardio option
- Beginner’s Guide to the Rotary Chest Press: Strengthen your chest and arms
- Beginner’s Guide to the Lat Pulldown: Improve posture
- Beginner’s Guide to the Seated Row: Prevent back pain
- Beginner’s Guide to the Seated Leg Curl: Protect your hips and knees
14. Mix Up Your Workouts
“My plan is 30 minutes of walking fast on Monday; tai chi Tuesday and Thursday; stretching, weights, and flexibility combination on Wednesday; and dancing to the oldies on Friday. I like the variety. My challenge is to do them all each week.”—Cheryl Newell
15. Hop Into the Pool
“It’s lots of fun and excellent exercise if you have arthritis!”—Marcella Treboldi
Water exercise is joint-friendly and terrific for people who are recovering from injuries. Even better, some aqua classes, like SilverSneakers Splash, are safe for non-swimmers.
16. Let Your Guard Down
“Find something fun like Zumba, yoga, or line dancing. It feels more like a party and less like exercise!”—Terri Rivard Parquette
17. Pick Active Hobbies
“At 69, I still golf two times per week, and I walk at least nine holes of it.”—Doug Sander
18. Pursue Your Passions
“I belong to a senior hiking group. We hike a mountain every Thursday in the Adirondacks.”—Bonnie Hammond Whitman
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19. Partner with a Great Instructor
“Find an instructor you really like, who supports you, encourages you, and helps you on your path to improving fitness.”—Laurie Jewett
Our certified instructors are one of the reasons people love SilverSneakers. Read about some of our top instructors here.
20. Make It a Date
“Every 1.75-mile walk to the gym is a fitness date with my 73-year-old husband.”—Daphne Rice
21. Exercise with a Buddy
“My neighbor and I keep each other going.”—Rita Kestner
22. Or a Furry Friend
“I have a dog who likes to walk five miles every day!”—Donald Barnes
23. Think of Fitness as an Investment
“As a home health nurse and having seen what happens to seniors who don’t take care of themselves, I know what I have to do. Every exercise session is an investment in a healthy, functional future for myself.”—George MacDonald
Think it’s too late to start exercising in your 60s? Read the inspiring story of SilverSneakers member George MacDonald here.
24. Figure Out What Motivates You
“I want to stay in the upright position, be able to bend easily, and get up off the floor without assistance.”—Donna Paige Brechtfeldt
25. Turn Your Bad Days Around
“Realize that the days when you really don’t feel like going are the ones when it’s most important to go and the ones when you will feel so much better if you do!”—Revae Moran
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