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You are never too old to get started with exercise

Exercise and physical activity are great for your mental and physical health and help keep you independent as you age. Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind when beginning to exercise.

Start slowly

The key to being successful and safe when beginning a physical activity routine is to build slowly from your current fitness level. Over-exercising can cause injury, which may lead to quitting. A steady rate of progress is the best approach.

To play it safe and reduce your risk of injury:

• Begin your exercise program slowly with low-intensity exercises.

• Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.

• Pay attention to your surroundings when exercising outdoors.

• Drink water before, during, and after your workout session, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Play catch, kickball, basketball, or soccer.

• Wear appropriate fitness clothes and shoes for your activity.

• If you have health conditions, discuss your exercise and physical activity plan with your health care provider.

Download and fill out the Find Your Starting Point Activity Log at https:// activity-tracking-tools to document your starting point. You’ll find space to track your normal activity levels for a few days—try and choose a few weekdays and one weekend day.

Don’t forget to test your current fitness level for all four types of exercise—endurance, balance, flexibility, and strength. You may be in shape for running, but if you’re not stretching, you’re not getting the maximum benefit from your exercise. Write down your results so you can track your progress as you continue to exercise.

Make notes about how these test exercises feel. If the exercises were hard, do what’s comfortable and slowly build up. If they were easy, you know your level of fitness is higher. You can be more ambitious and challenge yourself.

Onceyoustartexercising,usetheMonthly Progress Test at https://www.nia.nih. gov/health/exercise-and-physical-activity- tracking-tools to check in and see how you are improving and celebrate your successes.