Exercise: How to Stay Active

Plan for Breaks

Interruptions Can Happen

Sometimes ordinary events, like vacations to see grandchildren or getting a cold, can temporarily interrupt your exercise schedule and make it hard to stick with your activities. At other times, unexpected events like family illness, caregiving responsibilities, or the death of a loved one can permanently change your life and interrupt your physical activity routines. Regardless of the reason, there are ways you can get back on track with your exercise activity.

(Watch the video for a tip on how to start up again if your exercise routine has been interrupted. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Remember Your Goals

During these times, it's important to remember the reasons you started exercising and the goals you created for yourself. You may want to ask family and friends to help you get back on track or talk with your trainer or doctor to get the boost you need to start again.

Try a New or Easier Activity

You might consider trying something easier or an activity you haven't done recently. You might even want to try something you've never done before. Mastering something simple or new may give you the confidence you need to resume a regular exercise program.

Resume at a Comfortable Level

The sooner you resume some sort of activity, the better you'll feel and the easier it will be to get back into your routine. Feel confident that even if your activity is interrupted, you can start again and be successful. If you haven't exercised for several weeks or longer, make sure you start back at a comfortable level, and then gradually build back up. With a little time, you'll be back on track.

When the Break is Temporary

Here are tips to help you stay active during temporary breaks or start again if you've had to stop:

  • If your grandchildren come to visit, arrange to take them with you for a walk or reschedule your exercise during their nap time.
  • If you go on vacation, check out the facilities where you'll be staying and bring along your exercise clothes and equipment (resistance band, bathing suit, or walking shoes). For tips on exercising while on vacation, see Exercise Tips for Travelers from Go4LifeĀ®, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging.
  • If you can't go outdoors because of bad weather, try an exercise video, jog in place, dance around the house, or walk up and down the stairs a few extra times.

When Change Is Permanent

Here are tips to help you stay active, or start up again, when there has been a permanent change in your life.

  • If your usual exercise buddy moves away, ask another friend to go with you on your daily walk or ask other older adults where they go for walks.
  • If you move to a new community, check out the fitness centers, parks, and recreation associations in your new neighborhood. Look for activities that match your interests and abilities.

Here are tips to stay active when there is a permanent change in your life.

  • If you are recovering from hip or back surgery, talk with your doctor about specific exercises you can do safely once you feel better. Start slowly and gradually build up your activities as you become stronger.
  • If a spouse you are caring for has a long-term illness, ask family members to come over so you can go for a walk, or work out to an exercise video when your spouse is napping.