Improving the health of adults over 50, through physical activity
First Step To Active Health Your First Step
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> Getting Started
  Step 1: Cardio
  Step 2: Flexibility
  Step 3: Strength
  Step 4: Balance
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Getting Started

Increasing your physical activity level can be relatively easy, if you know how. One easy way is to incorporate physical activity into your normal routines like walking rather than driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking the car further away from the store. There are several steps to getting started with a more structured physical activity program. Click here to meet your role models for active aging.

  1. While it is generally not necessary to see a health care provider before beginning every-day physical activities that are of light or moderate intensity, we encourage you to talk with your health care provider about your health and exercise as part of your regular visits. The EASY tool at helps identify ways you can be active safely.
  2. Test your physical limitations. Download the First Step Assessment Form and review the functional task checklist (Download Assessment form as PDF). Mark those tasks that you have relative difficulty performing. Next, check the activities that are very important for your daily living.
  3. Set your goals. Once you have identified your limitations, you can determine which physical activities are most important for you to perform. Your goals should be based on your limitations noted above as well as your own preferences. You should write your goals down on the chart by listing at least 5 of the specific functional tasks you need to improve. Once you have your goals listed, you need to give yourself a reasonable timetable for achieving them.
  4. Develop your physical activity program. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following components of any exercise program, particularly for older adults:
    • Incorporate moderate activities for a goal of 30 minutes, at least 4 days per week
    • Include warm-up & cool down with each workout
    • Perform strengthening activities at least 2 days per week
    • Incorporate balance activities into daily activities
Keep track of your activity using an ACTIVITY LOG (71KB PDF)

Thus, a well-rounded physical activity program includes aerobic, flexibility, strengthening, and balance activities. The First Step to Active HealthT program addresses each of these areas, to improve specific functional tasks among older adults by providing a simple 4-step routine to increase physical activity.

Begin with Step 1, Cardiorespiratory/Aerobic activities. Once you are comfortable with activities in Step 1, begin adding some activities from Step 2, Flexibility. As your physical activity routine becomes more consistent, add activities from Step 3 and then Step 4 to your routine. Some people may start and quickly work through all four steps; others may only be able to do one or two steps. While it's ideal to be able to complete each of these components on a weekly basis, simply doing any type of physical activity is better than none!

Read the SAFETY REMINDERS before starting any physical activity.

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