Part two of two How Older Adults Can Get Started with Exercise From https://www.nia.nih.gov/
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3 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Exercise
Are you considering adding exercise to your daily routine or significantly increasing your level of activity? Talk to your doctor about the exercises and physical activities that are best for you. During your appointment, you can ask:
- Are there any exercises or activities I should avoid? Your doctor can make recommendations based on your health history, keeping in mind any recent surgeries or ongoing health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease. This would be a great time to check with your doctor about any unexplained symptoms you’ve been experiencing, such as chest pain or pressure, joint pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath. Your doctor may recommend postponing exercise until the problem is diagnosed and treated.
- Is my preventive care up to date? Your doctor can tell you if there are any tests you might need. For example, women over age 65 should be checked regularly for osteoporosis.
- How does my health condition affect my ability to exercise? Some health conditions can affect your exercise routine. For example, people with arthritis may need to avoid some types of activity, especially when joints are swollen or inflamed. Those with diabetes may need to adjust their daily schedule, meal plan, or medications when planning their activities. Your doctor can talk to you about any adjustments you need to make to ensure that you get the most out of your new exercise routine.
How to Set Fitness Goals
Many people find that having a firm goal in mind motivates them to move ahead on a project. Goals are most useful when they are specific, realistic, and important to you. Be sure to review your goals regularly as you make progress or your priorities change.
Download and use the Goal-Setting Worksheet to document where you want to be in both the short-and long-term.
Write Down Your Short-Term Fitness Goals
Short-term goals will help you make physical activity a regular part of your daily life. For these goals, think about the things you’ll need to get or do in order to be physically active. For example, you may need to buy walking shoes or fill out an Activity Log so you can figure out how to fit physical activity into your busy day. Make sure your short-term goals will really help you be active. Here are a few examples of short-term goals:
- Today, I will decide to be more active.
- Tomorrow, I will find out about exercise classes in my area.
- By the end of this week, I will talk with my friend about exercising with me a couple of times a week.
- In the next 2 weeks, I will make sure I have the shoes and comfortable clothes I need to start walking for exercise.
Write Down Your Long-Term Goals
After you write down your short-term goals, you can go on to identify your long-term goals. Focus on where you want to be in 6 months, a year, or 2 years from now. Long-term goals also should be realistic, personal, and important to you. Here are a few examples:
- By this time next year, I will swim 1 mile three times a week.
- Next summer, I will be able to play pitch and catch with my grandchildren.
- In 6 months, I will have my blood pressure under control by increasing my physical activity and following my doctor’s advice.
For Carl, 75, being able to do the things he enjoys motivates him to exercise every day. “I lift weights with my personal trainer at my gym twice a week and do stretching exercises. I also like bowling and fishing. I exercise so I can stay fit. It also helps keep my muscles strong and I have more energy to get going each day.”
Write a Plan to Add Exercise and Physical Activity to Your Life
Some people find that writing an exercise and physical activity plan helps them keep their promise to be active, while some people can plunge into a new project without planning ahead. If you choose to make a plan be sure the plan is realistic for you to do, especially as you gain experience in how to be active. You might even make a contract with a friend or family member to carry out your plan. Involving another person can help you keep your commitment.
Check out the interactive Activity Planner from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Move Your Way campaign. It lets you build a weekly physical activity plan and then print it out. You can choose from a variety of fun and exciting endurance (aerobic) and strength exercises, personalize your activities by location and purpose, and indicate how much of each exercise you will do. Once you create your plan, don’t forget to add in balance and flexibility exercises.
Review and Update Your Exercise Plan Regularly
Regularly review and update your plan and long-term goals so that you can build on your success. Adjust your plan as you progress or if your schedule changes. You may find that things like vacation or illness can interrupt your physical activity routine. Don’t get discouraged! You can start exercising again and be successful. You can use a Weekly Exercise and Physical Activity Plan to write down your activities.