It’s incredibly important to stay active regardless of your age. But as you get older your body starts to change and you need certain physical exertions to stay fit – both mentally and physically.

If you or a loved one are older than 65, there’s a good chance your lifestyle is a lot more sedentary than it used to be. It’s natural to feel weaker at this stage. A general lack of energy and a higher risk of injury make it difficult to stick to a strict fitness regime. But sitting or lying down for long stretches of time could have a seriously negative affect on your loved one’s health.

Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even death. Mental health is also closely linked to levels of physical activity. So, as a caregiver, here’s what you can do to help your elderly loved one stay active.

Understand Physical Needs

Before you get started it’s important to understand their physical needs and limitations. Most recommendations suggest 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. Ideally you need a little bit of exercise every single day. Ten minutes of moderate activity every day should cover the bare minimum. A great way to get the full 150 minutes is to split it up in 30 minutes, five times a week. Vigorous walking, doubles tennis, aerobics, or even swimming might be a great way to get a lot of exercise in very little time.  Of course, daily chores like cooking or housework don’t really count.

Experiment with Different Activities

Consistency is key and you’re not going to have any success with a program your loved one is not interested in. Unless they’re interested in the activity, they’re not going to carry on with it long-term. Rico and Shekinah Andrews, owners of Always Best Care, a provider of senior care in Memphis TN, suggests trying out different exercises to see what suits you best.  Try yoga, Zumba, walking, cycling, Tai Chi, or Pilates. Once you’ve taken trial classes of them all, check to see what your elderly loved one prefers and sign them up for it.

Staying active is incredibly important so take the time to help your senior loved one take up an activity they can stick with forever.