Heath and Aging

Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging

Chapter 7: Keep Going

Physical activity is a great way to have fun, be with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors, improve your fitness for your favorite sport, and maintain your independence. Older adults also gain substantial health benefits from regular physical activity, and these benefits last even into old age. The best way to be physically active is to make it a lifelong habit. Once you get started, keep going.

man reading the Exercise GuideOften, people decide to become more active and follow a healthy eating plan because they want to control their weight. For many people, these healthy habits do result in weight loss, but that’s only part of the big picture. Healthy eating and physical activity help you become physically fit and stay healthy.

Think about other lifestyle changes you can make, too. For example, smoking leads to a variety of serious diseases and can keep you from being active. So does drinking too much alcohol. Together, habits like physical activity, a healthful diet, drinking in moderation, and not smoking will help you achieve the main goal: the best of health.

Below you will find a number of worksheets you can use to help you meet your exercise and physical activity goals. Choose and use the ones that work for you.


'TIP'Make copies of the blank worksheets so you can update them as you progress. Use the My Go4Life online tools at www.nia.nih.gov/Go4Life to set your exercise and physical activity goals and keep track of your progress.


 

Activity Lognotepad and pen

For a couple of weekdays and a weekend, write down how much time you are physically active (for example, walking, gardening, playing a sport, dancing, lifting weights). The goal is to find ways to increase your activity.

Weekday 1
Activity Number of Minutes Ways to Increase Activity
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Total Minutes:

Weekday 2
Activity Number of Minutes Ways to Increase Activity
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Total Minutes:

Weekend
Activity Number of Minutes Ways to Increase Activity
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Total Minutes:

 


 

sun behind the cloudsGoal-Setting Worksheet

Your success depends on setting goals that really matter to you. Write down your goals, put them where you can see them, and renew them regularly.

Short-term Goals
Write down at least two of your own personal short-term goals. What will you do over the next week or two that will help you make physical activity a regular part of your life?
1.
2.
3.

 

Long-term Goals
Write down at least two long-term goals. Focus on where you want to be in 6 months, a year, or 2 years from now. Remember, setting goals will help you make physical activity part of your everyday life, monitor your progress, and celebrate your success.
1.
2.
3.

 


notepad and penWeekly Exercise and Physical Activity Plan

Use this form to make your own exercise and physical activity plan — one you think you really can manage. Update your plan as you progress. Aim for moderate-intensity endurance activities on most or all days of the week. Try to do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, but don’t exercise the same muscle group 2 days in a row. For example, do upper-body strength exercises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and lower-body strength exercises on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Or, you can do strength exercises of all of your muscle groups every other day. Don’t forget to include balance and flexibility exercises.

Week of _____
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Endurance              
Upper-Body Strength              
Lower-Body Strength              
Balance              
Flexibility              

 


clockEndurance Daily Record

You can use these forms to record your endurance activities. Try to build up to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance activity on most or all days of the week. Every day is best.

Week of _____
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Endurance Activity              
How Long Did You Do It?              

 

Week of _____
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Number of Steps              

 


clockStrength Daily Record

You can use this form to keep track of the strength exercises you do each day. Try to do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week for 30-minute sessions each, but don’t exercise the same muscle group on any 2 days in a row. Record the number of repetitions and the amount of weight you use (for example, “2 reps/3 lbs”).

Week of ___
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Hand Grip              
Wrist Curl              
Overhead Arm Raise              
Front Arm Raise              
Side Arm Raise              
Arm Curl              
Seated Row              
Wall Push-Up              
Elbow Extension              
Chair Dip              
Back Leg Raise              
Side Leg Raise              
Knee Curl              
Leg Straightening              
Chair Stand              
Toe Stand              

 


clock Flexibility Daily Record

You can use this form to keep track of your flexibility exercises. Record the number of repetitions you do.

Week of _____
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Neck              
Shoulder              
Shoulder/Upper Arm              
Upper Body              
Chest              
Back 1              
Back 2              
Upper Back              
Ankle              
Back of Leg              
Thigh              
Hip              
Lower Back              
Calf              
Buddy Stretch              

 


calendarMonthly Progress Test

Take the tests in Chapter 5 monthly, record your scores, and watch your progress.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Endurance — Pick a fixed course, such as the distance from your house to the corner, and see how long it takes you to walk that far.                        
Upper-Body Strength — Count the number of arm curls you can safely do in 2 minutes.                        
Lower-Body Strength — Count the number of chair stands you can safely do in 2 minutes.                        
Balance — Time yourself as you stand on one foot, without support, for as long as possible. Repeat with the other foot.                        
Flexibility — Note how far you can reach until you feel a stretch.                        

Publication Date: May 2011
Page Last Updated: March 25, 2014