Banner Health
Making healthcare easier

Staying Active

Find Fun in Your Fitness

Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy as you age, but it’s most important that you find activities that are fun and fulfilling for you. You don’t need to become a competitive athlete or do grueling workouts to have regular exercise be a part of your healthy lifestyle. The most important thing is to find activities that feel good for your body, that you enjoy doing and that you can realistically stay motivated to stick with.

Why Is Staying Active Important?

Being fit as an older adult will help lower your risk of many common health concerns like type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis and many cancer types, but it does so much more. Regular exercise can also help you:

  • Maintain a positive and hopeful outlook and manage emotional distress and change
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Sleep better
  • Reduce pain
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Improve your balance and lower the risk of falls
  • Maintain your strength so you can be independent longer
  • Give you more energy to spend on the things that matter to you

Different Types of Fitness

There are four categories of fitness: endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Each type of fitness offers unique benefits, but they are all interrelated. Many activities engage and improve more than one type of fitness at a time. Always speak to your doctor before starting a new fitness or exercise program.


Endurance activities are often called aerobic activities and they involve anything that increases your breathing and heart rate. They strengthen your heart, lungs and circulatory system and can prepare you for everything from playing with grandkids to dancing at a wedding. Activities that build your endurance include:

  • Brisk walking or jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Yard work
  • Climbing stairs and hiking
  • Playing tennis and other sports


Your muscles will naturally atrophy as you age, but strength training can help you stay strong so that you can stay independent longer. Having strong muscles also provides better support for your bones and, because it goes hand-in-hand with balance, can help prevent falls. Many people choose to join gyms or health clubs for a strength training routine, but there are also many affordable, at-home ways to engage your muscles. Activities that build your strength include:

  • Lifting weights
  • Carrying groceries
  • Squeezing a tennis ball to build hand strength
  • Using resistance bands
  • Body weight exercises like pushups, sit-ups, air squats and calf raises
  • Many endurance activities will also build strength


Maintaining your flexibility is important for keeping everyday activities,  like tying your shoes or looking behind you while backing up your car, easy and pain-free. Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility, but so is stretching on your own. The important thing to keep in mind is that you should stretch once your muscles are warmed up, like after strength or endurance activities. Be careful that you never strain to the point of pain when stretching.


Balance might be the most overlooked fitness type, but it becomes increasingly important as you get older because having good balance helps prevent falls. Balance is your ability to engage the right muscles at the right time, which also requires having sufficient strength in those muscles. Yoga and tai chi are both excellent balance-building activities. Additionally, practicing standing on one foot or moving from sitting to standing without using your hands helps build your balance fitness.

Finding Your Motivation

Many people will find it easier to be inactive, but more fulfilling to be active. Knowing that physical activity is good for your health and that you’ll likely be glad you exercised afterward, though, often isn’t enough motivation to get moving. That’s OK. There are other ways to get and stay motivated.

  • Variety is the spice of life. Doing the same exercise routine every time can make it feel like a chore. Plus, this approach often leads to an imbalance in the four different types of fitness. Alternate the kinds of activities you do and try new things to make your exercise feel like a source of excitement and something to look forward to.
  • Make it a social event. Planning exercise with friends helps you feel accountable and less likely to skip out. Additionally, exercising with friends can be more fun and motivating.
  • Put it on your calendar. Plan your exercise like you would a doctor’s appointment. Set aside that time knowing that it’s a commitment you’re making to yourself and your future.
  • Make lifestyle changes. There are many ways to stay active that don’t count as a formal exercise program but still provide important health benefits. Making small changes like taking the stairs or parking farther away from your destination, allows for more movement throughout your day.
  • Track your progress. Whether you use a fitness-tracking app or just jot down your activities in a journal, tracking your fitness allows you to see and celebrate your wins, like being able to walk farther, lift more or do a new yoga pose. Seeing your improvement over time helps you feel motivated to continue improving.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Staying active is a great way to maintain a positive outlook and mood, as well as keep your mind sharp and engaged. But, mental health and brain health also require their own fitness plans to keep you at your best.

Get information and resources on managing your mental health and maintaining your memory and brain health