Along with our bodies, our fitness goals change as we mature, according to Valerie Marr of Age Right Fitness in Hallowell, a gym and workout center just for Mainers 40 and older.

“Most of our clients tell us they’re not training for competition,” she said. “They’re mostly exercising to be healthy as they live their lives. They want to be strong all the time, not just be a weekend warrior. They know their bodies don’t work that way anymore.”

Regular physical activity is widely recommended to prevent and control a range of age-related problems, including cardiovascular and respiratory disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, pain and depression. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that healthy adults 60 and older spend a minimum of 150 minutes each week exercising at a “moderate or vigorous” level.

That’s 30 minutes, five days per week, though the CDC says it’s OK to spread it out into segments as short as 10 minutes each and best to vary activities for a full-body regimen that boosts strength, flexibility and balance.

Though the start of a new year often inspires the best of intentions, Age Right Fitness doesn’t typically see a flood of new clients in January.

“That whole New Year’s resolution thing — at this point in our lives, we’ve figured out it doesn’t really work,” Marr said. But the gym does see a predictable bump up each spring, as adults who have been less active over the winter prepare for warm-weather activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking.

Losing weight is another common goal, although, again, older individuals typically are more interested in boosting their overall health than in perfecting a “beach-worthy” body.

Marr, 55, and her partner, Bob Sweet, founded Age Right Fitness 10 years ago in response to their own awareness that older adults often felt anxious and out of place in other workout environments.

“If you go to most gyms and look around, you’ll see a lot of younger people in their 20s and 30s.” she said. “There’s a lot of spandex, a lot of really loud music. And it can be really crowded.” An older adult environment, by comparison, is more laid back.

A certified personal trainer and yoga instructor, Marr said older adults, especially those who are new to working out, should consult with a professional as they get started. A personal trainer can help identify target goals, assess strengths and weaknesses and work with medical conditions such as high blood pressure or orthopedic problems, she said.

“Your exercise program should be safe and effective. It should build slowly. You’ll hear people saying we should ‘feel the burn’ or ‘feel the pain’ — that’s not great advice at any age, but you can’t tell a 20-year-old that,” she said.

In addition to private gyms such as Age Right Fitness, adult exercise classes can be found at most YMCA and YWCA facilities, through local area agency on aging and through many community adult education programs. Many malls in Maine open early on winter mornings for public indoor walking. Other resources include online or television classes.

Meg Haskell

Meg Haskell is a curious second-career journalist with two grown sons, a background in health care and a penchant for new experiences. She lives in Stockton Springs. Email her at