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Set Fitness Goals that Motivate You to Stay Healthy

It does not matter the size of the investment. No matter where you put it, it appreciates and grows stronger, with only positive returns.

That coin of the realm is exercise.

One approach fits all in this free way to improve your health. You start where you can and build from there, experts say.

“It's not like you hit 65 and boom 'ya old’,” says Anna Hogstrom-Kaplansky, a fitness and aqua trainer and a member of the International Sports Sciences Association. “It’s on an individual basis. Set fitness goal that will motivate you.”

Fit and ready is a few steps away for those who have grown older without regular exercise. It adds strength with stretching and balance, then comes flexibility and stronger bones, muscles, and breathing and you hit the jackpot: strong body, strong mind, and a twinkle in the walk and eyes.

From the simple first steps of walking more to more targeted exercises for specific needs and desires, exercise will improve bone and muscle mass, help with balance, improve blood pressure and blood sugar management, and preserve neuro-cognitive function long-term. A healthy, strong body fights off infection and disease more easily and more quickly. Rather than sapping energy reserves entirely, recovery from an illness will take less of a toll on the body if the person exercises regularly.

Regular exercise also boosts the metabolism and upgrades protections again chronic conditions. And yes, it can actually delay death.

In addition, a study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that seniors who exercised experienced improvements in functional reach and balance and reduced the participants’ fears of falling.

It can be confusing as to where to begin — beyond walking more. Hogstrom-Kaplansky aligns with other medical, health, and fitness experts in recommending training or consulting with an experienced fitness professional who is certified in special populations.

However, she offers a basic outline to start one’s thought processes as to what to do and how often to do it. A program should focus on functional mobility, strength, and resistance training, some cardio training, exercises aimed at balance-flexibility-core strength-posture improvements, and some isometric exercises using simple resistance bands, cables, and weights.

“Circuit training with different stations, leading up to a full body workout, is always fun and challenging for the young and the elderly,” Hogstrom-Kaplansky says.

One study of walking and mortality of 700 men enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program showed that the mortality rate among the men who walked less than one mile per day was nearly twice the rate of those who walked more than two miles per day. Studies of women showed similar results. In another study, data collected on more than 41,000 men and women from 1990 to 2001 were analyzed to find the relationship between walking and mortality. It was reported that men and women who walked 30 minutes or more per day during the study period had fewer deaths than those who walked less than 30 minutes.

That’s walking, free and available anytime. And walking underscores one caution about exercise to better health: gradually ramp up. Experts urge a good pace to make up for inactivity overnight to avoid injuring yourself or being too exhausted and losing interest.

Hogstrom-Kaplansky suggests starting by writing down the answers in these areas:

  • Define your ideal state of health.

  • Define your goals.

  • Define why you want to achieve those goals.

  • Define what does your ideal body looks like — and find an actual photo of it

You can start these today. Right now. The foundations of good health are within your grasp.