From Couch to 5K for Seniors

Spring is here, and good weather is a time to think about recommitting to fitness, especially at community events.

Getting on the exercise bandwagon, and then staying on it, can be a constant work in progress. That is why when patients mention their difficulties with exercise, we can say with assurance that “The struggle is real!”

There is good news, though. Research shows that for older adults, exercise is better than no exercise. Even one minute of exercise can help improve mobility and physical function. The bottom line is this: It is never too late to start exercising, and you can begin with small steps!

Using a “Couch to 5K” program or another beginner walking program is helpful in providing guidance and takes the guesswork out of “how to go about it.” Verywellfit also has a Beginner Walking Plan and Schedule.

Tips Before Starting an Exercise Regimen

  • After finding a program to get you started, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the safety of the program before you begin.
  • Spend time looking for footwear with proper cushioning, comfort, and stability. The fit should be a thumb’s-width of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of your shoe. Your heel shouldn’t slip when you walk or jog, and your foot shouldn’t be spilling over the edges of the shoe. If your shoes are not comfortable when you first try them on, they won’t be comfortable when walking or jogging.
  • If you need to use an assistive device for balance or safety, such as a cane or walker, use it! Your safety is most important, and those devices will help you keep your independence.
  • Slow down the program if you find it is too much for you. It is okay to spend 12 weeks completing a 6-week program.
  • Make a public commit to complete the program. Making yourself accountable to someone, whether on social media or to a fitness buddy, can make it easier to keep going, even when you don’t want to.
  • Consider listening to music, nature sounds, a podcast or audiobook to accompany you while you train.
  • Don’t forget to stretch after warming up and definitely after finishing your workout. The National Institute on Aging at National Institutes of Health has a variety of resources that will help to get you started and keep you motivated.

And finally, feel proud of yourself for every minute that you exercise because you are one step closer to better health.

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