Stay Strong as You Age

Build strength to help you stay independent and manage your health in your later years.

By Ginny Greene, Contributing Writer

As you get older, keeping your body strong will help you feel your best. Exercising your muscles helps build that strength, and can help make daily activities easier for you to perform.

If you’re battling a health condition, you might think of that as an excuse not to exercise. But in truth, stronger muscles can help you live better with arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis or back pain. Strength building can help you lose excess weight and improve your mental outlook. Almost everyone can benefit from getting stronger!

One great way to get started on a healthy path is to list some goals you’d like to reach. Examples might be joining a neighbor for a walk around the block or taking a weight class at an activity center. Maybe it’s working out at home with a resistance band to make your arms and legs stronger.

Once you list some goals, picture yourself achieving those things. Think about how good it will feel to start around the block and go more than a short way before you get tired. Picture yourself in that seniors class, enjoying lifting weights while in the company of others who want to get stronger just like you do. Try to see yourself going through the steps to reach your goal.

Visualizing your success can be a powerful technique to get you past an obstacle. But make sure your goal is a SMART goal. “I will walk around the block” may be a fine thing to accomplish, but the goal doesn’t say how you’ll do it, when you’ll make the effort, how you’ll deal with getting tired or discouraged. It doesn’t address why it’s relevant or important to you.

Instead, try to make your SMART goal be:

Specific. It’s a defined activity or accomplishment, not some huge, lofty idea.

Measurable. You can see your progress or know you’ve taken steps toward your goal.

Attainable. This goal is something you can safely accomplish.

Relevant. It’s something that can make a difference in your life. In this discussion, it can help you get stronger and be more active and independent.

Time-based. You’re defining a period of time to reach this goal.

You can see how an idea can be shaped into a SMART goal. “I will walk around the block” becomes “By the end of the week I will walk around the whole block with my neighbor Jim.” If you have to stop a few times or turn back the first day, that’s OK. Your goal allows for that.

So get busy! Set some SMART goals. Visualize achieving these things.

Strength training can help you now and years into the future. Be sure to talk to your doctor about starting any new exercise to make sure the activity is safe and healthy for you.