Aging Healthy: Checking Our Physical Health and Activity

In our last Aging Healthy post, we introduced the behaviors that are part of healthy aging: being physically active, food choices, sleep, quitting unhealthy habits, and visiting your healthcare provider. There is a lot of information to cover with physical health, so we’ll break it down into smaller sections.

Let’s begin by talking about our physical health and how we can get moving. According to the National Institutes of Health, physical activity is a cornerstone of healthy aging. Studies by NIH have found that people who exercise regularly live longer and live better lives. They they enjoy more years of life without pain or disability.

a woman wearing a red jacket rides a bike briskly past parked cars in an urban setting. [credit:, kieran sheehan]
[CREDIT:, Kieran Sheehan]

We know there are a lot of benefits to staying physically active, such as muscle strength, balance, and maintaining a healthy weight. But, regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. It can help with high blood pressure, and even boost our mental and emotional health.

There are so many ways to be and stay active, many of which are free. Take a brisk walk. Go swimming (or try swim aerobics). Jump into a session of yoga or tai chi. There are chair exercises, pickleball, tennis, golf, bowling, biking, walking your dog, stretching, visiting a gym, and so many more. Even taking the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator gets you going. And if you can enlist a friend or neighbor to join you in any of these activities, all the better.

Keys to success

Always talk to your health care provider first, of course, to learn what exercises are best for you. And, especially with a new activity or program, start with small, easy steps and gradually work yourself up to realistic goals. Critical to getting active and staying that way, try to:

  • two elderly friends walk along a brick-paver trail through a lushly vegetated park. [credit:, steve buissinne]
    [CREDIT:, Steve Buissinne]
    Schedule the activity into your daily and weekly routine.
  • Make your exercise schedule a priority, and be sure they are activities you enjoy doing.
  • Mix it up if you get bored and try something new, interesting and fun.
  • Have a friend or neighbor join you in your routine.
  • Take small steps first and work up to larger goals.

Lastly, life happens. So, plan for breaks in your routine. Whether you are planning a trip, moving to a new home, have an unexpected illness or even death in the family, many things can interrupt your routine. These events make it difficult to maintain the routine you have established. When that happens, don’t come down hard on yourself by focusing on the time you missed. Instead, focus on your fitness goals and start again at whatever level is possible for you.

Next, we will discuss making smart food choices and looking at three different eating patterns. Visit the Aging Healthy blog series feed to find all current posts.


Maria Portelos-Rometo is a UF/IFAS Extension Agent at Sarasota County. She specializes in Family and Consumer Sciences.
Posted: April 18, 2024

Category: Health & Nutrition, Work & Life
Tags: Activity, Aging, Aging Healthy, AgingHealthy, Health, Pgm_FCS, Physical, Senior

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