These bright ideas will help keep your body strong, mind sharp, and spirits high—so you can keep doing the things you love.
The older we get, the more valuable our health becomes. That’s because good health allows us to keep doing the things we love, whether it’s traveling, gardening, or playing with the grandkids (and if we’re lucky, great-grandkids).
For wisdom on preserving good health from head to toe, we turned to people in the know: the SilverSneakers community. Here are your best health tips for preventing illness, recovering from injury, easing pain, losing weight, and feeling confident enough to embrace everything life has to offer.
1. Think Big, Change Small
“Be as consistent as you possibly can in good health habits—consistent, not fanatical!”—Karen Anne Converse
A healthy lifestyle isn’t an all-or-nothing challenge. Start by making just one small change, like cutting out sugary drinks to help prevent or manage diabetes. When that becomes a habit, pick another goal.
2. Rise and Stretch
“Gentle stretches every morning and evening help prevent injury and promote a feeling of wellness.”—Sandra Shumaker
You’ll find everything you need to know in our guide to stretching for seniors.
3. Or Rise and Step—Then Keep Moving!
“Early morning walks are the best way to start the day. Late mornings or early afternoons, I get to a SilverSneakers gym to do cardio and lift weights. Been working out for more than 40 years, and it’s part of my daily life.”—John Joseph
Does your health plan cover a free SilverSneakers membership that gives you access to gyms and fitness classes? Check your eligibility here.
4. Help a Furry Friend, Gain a Walking Buddy
“Rescue a dog and walk!”—Mary Ann Morse Bleich
An energetic canine will provide companionship, nudge you (literally!) to spend time in nature, and help you squeeze in more steps every day. Can’t commit to a full-time pet? Consider a part-time gig as a dog walker, or volunteer at your local animal shelter.
5. Lend a Helping Hand, Break a Healthy Sweat
“I volunteer at a food pantry, which is very physical: picking up chairs and tables, putting out items, planning the menu and cooking.”—Donna Holsten Grunewald
6. Exercise Your Passion
“A person needs some activity that includes exercise but has some purpose other than working out. At 75, I bike and do martial arts.”—John Eric Victor
7. Move and Meditate
“Practicing tai chi for 10 years has improved my balance, concentration, focus, and inner peace.”—Susan Malkowski
8. Get Your Game On
“I will soon be 80. I have been bowling, playing pickleball, and golfing.”—Joe Coop
9. Take Time to Reboot
“Rest when you need to.”—Juanita Salazar Lamb
Staying as active as possible is important. Just as important: knowing when your body or mind needs time to recover. For example:
- After a strength workout, your joints, tendons, and ligaments need to repair themselves. In the meantime, you can continue with cardio, stretching, and balance exercises.
- After an illness or injury, your body needs to heal. Work with your doctor to get back to your normal routine as quickly—and safely—as possible.
- If you’re a caregiver, finding support and taking time for yourself can help you avoid burnout.
10. Give Your Doctor a Heads Up
“I had to get a new doctor and about a week before my appointment, someone called to go over my health and asked if I had any concerns to discuss with the doctor. I found it so beneficial when I had the appointment.”—RonnJune Eide-Hodgson
When making an appointment, let the doctor’s office know why: Are you going in for a preventive check? Or are you experiencing symptoms—if so, what are they? This will give your doctor a better idea of how much time you need together. Use these tips to get more out of every doctor visit.
11. Understand Your Meds
“Research any medication recommended by a doctor.”—Lois Teed-Gillen
While you’re at it, check with your doctor and pharmacist before taking over-the-counter drugs or supplements. (These OTC drugs can have serious side effects.) For any drug you take, you want to know what it’s for, how to properly take it, and any potential side effects or interactions with other medications.
12. Boost Your Body’s Healing Powers
“I had treatment for a spider bite that became infected: two surgeries, six days in the hospital. I’m a 68-year-old woman who has worked out most days for years. I kept hearing this whole ordeal would be much worse if I wasn’t so healthy.”—Georgia Standley
13. Know the Signs of Stroke to Get Help Fast
“I had a stroke in 2010. It is so necessary to get medical care ASAP. Because people around me were aware what was happening, I am fine today.”—Margie Herold
Read these must-know facts about stroke.
14. Ease Shoulder Pain
“Good posture is essential for proper shoulder function. If your shoulder muscles aren’t working properly and you have not sustained an injury, it could be because of poor posture.”—Lisa Hauser
Check out this four-step plan to improve your posture.
15. Get Up and Down More Easily
“The squat helped me so much after my partial colectomy. I remembered to put my weight into my heels and stick my butt out. That helped me when getting out of bed and off the couch with minimal pain. I was able to return to SilverSneakers three weeks ahead of time following my surgery. Ten months later, doing great.”—Nancy Robins
Intimidated by squats? Try it from a seated position, and push up just a couple of inches. Even this small range of motion will help you strengthen your lower body. Watch a video and get a step-by-step guide to the perfect squat for your body.
16. Clam Up for Your Hips and Knees
“The clamshell is one of my exercises from physical therapy.”—Darlene Swenson Smith
This move improves how your hip rotates out and away from your body. Watch a video and get instructions here.
17. Try Yoga to Strengthen Your Hips
“I did yoga right up to the day before each of my hip replacements, and it made a huge difference in my recovery.”—Jan Eidson
Watch the video below to see SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year Ti Blair demonstrate five yoga moves for stronger hips.
18. Or Relieve Back Pain
“I have been doing beginner’s yoga almost every day for the past four months. Huge improvement in my lower back. Feel so much better!”—Susan Harden
See nine yoga moves that ease back pain in this video.
19. Or Bust Stress
“I learned yoga breathing a couple decades ago. When I find myself stressed, I concentrate on my belly breathing.”—Ruthann Jones
Learn how to practice a calming breath in this video.
20. Keep the Scale in Check
“Don’t gain weight!”—AC Moreno
Age, hormonal changes, medication side effects, and other surprising factors can slow down metabolism. Learn how to combat it with this owner’s manual to your metabolism.
21. Team Up for Weight Loss
“If you are overweight, go to a group with supportive friends. Four of us each lost 15 to 20 pounds. We chose Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) because there were no food purchases. Once you lose the weight, stay with the group for maintenance purposes. It’s great!”—Janice Blaha Palmer
22. Live in the Present
“Don’t say ‘in my day.’ Today is my day, and it is an awesome day!”—Henni Kaufman
23. Give Yourself a Pep Talk
“With a fractured spinal column, my days are a struggle, but I say every morning, ‘Never give up, never give in.’”—Rob Hutchinson
24. Stay in Touch with Loved Ones
“Texting with my granddaughter helps me stay young.”—Jeri Carter
Maintaining social connections and learning new things, like texting, are two great ways to cut your dementia risk.
25. Get a Dose of the Best Medicine
“Funny movies and stories help me stay young. I have a belly laugh every day.”—Linda Eller Sorenson
A good chuckle can help tame stress hormones naturally. Learn more about the powerful health benefits of laughter.
Get a Tip, Give a Tip!
Check out 25 Best Fitness Tips from SilverSneakers Members and Fans. Got a good tip? Tell us!