Take control of your brain health with Staying Sharp! Try it today.
AARP, May 25, 2007
Whatever your age or activity level, it is never too late to start a fitness routine. A complete fitness routine should include activities that focus on endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. These four elements, known as fitness building blocks, provide both physical and emotional benefits. They can help you maintain independence and mobility even as you age.
Endurance: These exercises increase your breathing and heart rate. They strengthen your heart and build stamina.
Strength: These exercises build your muscles and give you strength to do things on your own.
Flexibility: These exercises keep your body limber and involve stretching, and increase your range of motion.
Balance: These exercises help you maintain posture and prevent falls.
Activities for the Four Building Blocks of Endurance
Goal: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days a week. Aerobic means that the body is using oxygen to make energy, like when you run.
Combining upper- and lower-body activities in your daily routine will provide an overall strengthening workout.
Goal: Build strength through resistance exercises (weights, resistance bands). Try one set of 8-12 repetitions for each muscle group, two to three times a week.
A rule of thumb: If you can't repeat eight weight exercises in a row, the weight is too heavy, try a lighter one. If you can lift a weight more than 15 times in a row, the weight is too light – get one slightly heavier. Don't increase the weight you lift by more than 10 percent at any time. Remember to warm up with slow movement, such as marching in place, and cool down (stretch) your muscles each time you work out. Make sure you keep at least one day in between strength training. Your muscles need time to repair and rest allows them to become stronger.
It is important to stretch before and after you exercise. To avoid injury, make sure your muscles are warmed up before stretching. Try a low impact activity, such as walking for a couple of minutes before you begin.
Goal: Perform a static stretch routine each day, working each muscle group two or three times for at least 20 to 30 seconds each time.
Goal: Work your balance exercises into your regular strength-training, stretching, and endurance routines. Posture exercises can be done anytime and anywhere.
Putting Together a Plan
You've decided to do something fantastic for your health and your body – you're going to get moving! Congratulations – you've already taken the first step. Before you begin, be sure to talk with your doctor about any health conditions you might have.
You can design a plan with a personal trainer, fitness instructor, or work on your own. Find out which areas of fitness you need to work on most, and then design a plan to meet these needs. For example, you might have great endurance but need to build strength. It is important to let your muscles rest. Injuries can be prevented by starting off slow and gradually increasing activity as your body adjusts.
Measuring Your Success
Chart your fitness plan progress. Don't get discouraged when you don't see instant results. Getting fit takes time. Set realistic goals and try to stick with it, soon you'll start seeing improvements in your balance, endurance, strength, and flexibility.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Enter address, city, state, or ZIP code.
Driver Safety (0)
Tax Aide (0)
Entertainment & Dining (0)
Healthcare & Insurance (0)
Financial Services & Insurance (0)
Member Local Offers (0)
Visit the AARP state page for information about events, news and resources near you.
Members save 15% on medical alert service.
This tool helps you identify your pills by color, shape and markings.
Members can take a free confidential hearing test by phone.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at