As we get older our bodies start to slow down and get stiffer, so physical activity can get more difficult. However, staying active is important to keeping us healthy.

Research shows that exercise improves our cognitive function as well as our physical function.

For older adults it is important to get a good mix of exercise in different categories: flexibility, aerobic exercise, strength, and balance.

Flexibility: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHM) recommend older adults stretch three or four times a week for at least 10 minutes. They should try to stretch the chest, shoulders and elbows, back of the thighs and knees, calves front of the wrists and palms, and low back and neck.

Aerobic Exercise: The ACSM and AHM recommend older adults do 150 minutes of moderately paced aerobic activity each week. That's about 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Sessions of activity in 10-15 minute increments spaced throughout the day are also effective.

Stength: The ACSM and AHM recommend older adults do strength training two or three times a week allowing muscle groups to rest between sessions. The muscle groups to target are the core (abdominals/back), thighs, buttocks, and back of the arms.

Balance: The ACSM recommends older adults balance train two or three times a week. It involves targeting posture control and sensory systems.

When you are working to stay healthy, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Consult with your physician or physical therapist
  • Find an exercise program or physical activity that is fun, accessible and sustainable so it can become routine
  • Try to incorporate physical activity into your daily schedule. March in place while you brush your teeth!
  • Challenge yourself to try something new, learn new movement pattern. Good for body and brain!
  • Check out offerings at local community centers and gyms. West Michigan has many resources available for walking clubs and group exercise classes designed for the older adult.
  • To compliment your fitness routine, eat healthy and stay hydrated.

You can learn more about how exercise can help you can visit Porter Hills website.

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Mackenzie Thaden is a producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email us at or visit our Facebook page or Twitter.