Staying Fit after 60 Helps You Age More Gracefully
As baby boomers age, it’s no surprise that fitness and exercise programs aimed at the over-60 crowd continue to grow. And there are lots of no-cost, low-cost and easily accessible ways to create, track and maintain health habits into your 60s and beyond.
Here are a few fitness tips geared toward seniors from Monica Breen, a certified yoga instructor who works with individuals, sports teams and corporations to develop mind-body practices and exercise routines aimed at physical and emotional well-being:
- Get your cardio: Numerous studies, including a 2018 report by the American Heart Association, show that 20 minutes of vigorous exercise — like swimming or brisk walking — three times a week will maintain the cardiovascular system.
- Develop a “movement-oriented” lifestyle: Rather than looking at exercise as something you have to check off your list, incorporate exercise into your daily routine. A classic example is taking stairs instead of an elevator. “I started that habit a long time ago,” Breen says, “and now I usually choose the stairs without thinking about it!”
- Make it fun: Find an activity that seems interesting, or even fun. And make a promise to yourself to try it for a couple of months, maybe even with a friend to keep you motivated. “I recommend martial arts like tai chi, because they have a sort of intellectual underpinning that can keep things interesting over time,” says Breen.
- Include these types of exercises: Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity five days a week with a balance of exercise routines (this should include the 20 minutes of cardio exercise three times a week mentioned above). She suggests that any exercise plan include:
- Cardio exercise (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.)
- Strength exercises (weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, etc.)
- Balance (yoga, tai chi, or simply balancing on each foot)
- Measure it:
- A pedometer or activity tracker can keep you honest, letting you know your number of steps, distance, and duration of activity.
- Keep a journal of your daily exercise so you can see your progress.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, you can also use your journal or a weight loss app to track your diet, calorie intake and weight.
- Talk with your doctor: Make sure you’re in good health before starting any exercise program.
- Start slow: Warm up and stretch before you start. Do some simple arm and leg swings, and if you’re walking or jogging, start off slow before picking up the pace.
- Stick with it: “When things become a habit, which they will if you keep at it, it’s much easier to show up and continue taking good care of yourself,” says Breen. “Just take little steps forward each day and be kind to yourself along the way.”
Apps to help you stay fit
Like most everything these days, when it comes to staying fit at age 60-plus, there’s an app for that. In fact, there are millions of them, which can make finding the one that’s right for you difficult. Here are a few well-tested, well-reviewed, free or low-cost phone apps for 60-plus fitness.
Apps designed specifically for seniors
Yoga for Seniors & Adults: This app provides 49 poses that help exercise all parts of your body from your arms and shoulders to your chest, abs and legs (available on iOS).
Wysefit: Improve your flexibility, joint health and cognitive function, prevent back pain, and gain better balance through this app made for adults over 50 (available on iOS and Android).
Insurance Plan Wellness Apps: Many Medicare supplemental insurance plans now come with free access to health and fitness apps that provide nutrition, fitness and wellness resources to help keep you healthy. Be sure to see if your plan offers this or look for a plan that does.
Apps designed for beginners and suitable for seniors
Map My Walk: Track and map every mile you walk and get feedback and stats along the way. You can also discover new workout routes and share your favorites with others (available on iOS and Android).
Breethe: This app has over a thousand guided meditations, sleep music playlists and more (available on iOS and Android).
7-Minute Chi: Learn simple tai chi moves to boost your energy (available on iOS and Android).
20-Minute Beginners Workout: This app gives you a full-body workout that improves strength, balance and muscle tone (available on iOS and Android).
Dumbbell Home Workout: Select a dumbbell weight you’re comfortable with to build muscles and gain strength (available on iOS and Android).