By Glenn Ruffenach
Why wait for the New Year to begin exercising? A new fitness program from the National Institutes of Health can help you start getting into shape today.
Called “Go4Life,” the program is designed to encourage people age 50-plus to make exercise a part of their daily lives. Education and instruction focus on four key areas: balance, endurance, flexibility and strength.
Regular exercise, of course, is central to good health – and to minimizing medical expenses as we age. That said, only 30% of Americans age 45 to 64 say they work out regularly, according to the NIH. Only about one-quarter of people age 65 to 74 say they engage in regular physical activity.
Indeed, Go4Life is targeted at older adults who “traditionally have not embraced exercise and shows…even those with physical limitations [how] to exercise, as well,” says Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, which developed the program at the NIH.
Visitors to the Go4Life website – under the heading “Get Started” – first will find background information about the benefits of exercise and the importance of safety (including reasons why you might want to talk with a health-care provider before jumping in). In this section, you also will find information about improving your diet and a link to ChooseMyPlate.gov, a website developed by the Department of Agriculture that offers personalized eating plans, among other tools and resources.
Next, the Go4Life site walks you through setting fitness goals and developing an exercise plan. Interactive tools enable you to keep track of both your plan and daily workouts. Here, too, you can find answers to frequently asked questions. (Example: “Is it better to join an exercise class or group, or exercise on my own?”)
Finally, the website offers specific exercises for each of the four core areas, including information about how often and how much to work out. (You also can order an exercise guide and a DVD from the National Institute on Aging.) Of particular help here: tip sheets to keep you on the right track, and real-life success stories for a dose of inspiration. In short, a clear, simple and valuable program.